The Right to an Impartial Jury
Personal injury cases seldom escalate to a jury trial. However, when they do, it’s often in the presence of a trial judge and an unbiased jury.
In the United States, the right to an impartial jury — the Sixth Amendment — is a right observed throughout the country. Impartial jurors are instrumental in adjudicating criminal prosecutions and civil cases. Without an impartial jury drawn from various parts of the community, jury bias can occur, resulting from a trial court’s error.
Learn more about jury impartiality and the importance of impartial jurors in a trial judge’s consideration.
What is Impartiality?
Impartiality is the collective and individual capacity of the petit jury to come to an unbiased verdict. Impartiality is synonymous with fairness. Jury impartiality is an essential condition that facilitates a speedy and public trial.
What is an Impartial Jury?
It’s hard to define jury impartiality without looking at what trial courts and litigants look for in a prospective juror. Prospective jurors must be from different community sectors and backgrounds, per the fair cross-section requirement of the Sixth Amendment. Also, jurors are considered impartial if they can decide on a verdict based solely on presented evidence for or against criminal defendants.
Why is it Important to Get an Impartial Jury?
A jury that’s impartial provides a speedy and fair trial. The jury helps trial court judges decide the defendant’s verdict. Unlike a biased jury, an impartial jury maximizes the chances of a court decision being unmarred by personal bias.
How is a Jury Selected?
The jury selection process begins with random pooling. The pool of jurors comes from the registered voter list. Courts can select and examine potential jurors from the list who will make up the jury panel or “venire.” A prospective pool of individuals will undergo a series of questions conducted by the judge and attorneys. In negligence cases, the parties will select 6-8 jurors from the pool that they feel can be impartial and fit for jury service.
However, judges can exclude those most predisposed to bias based on conflict of interests. Lawyers may also exclude members of the jury panel from participating in jury duty for no reason whatsoever. When lawyers or judges do this, they invoke their right to a peremptory challenge. Each party gets six of these exclusions.
How Can You Ensure the Jury is Impartial?
It can be challenging to ascertain the impartiality of your trial’s jurors. However, you can size up the objectivity of a jury by looking at who comprises it. In particular, you can look for diversity.
Jurors must come from a cross-section of the community. When you can see an assortment of individuals from different backgrounds, there’s a good chance that the trial judge and attorneys did their utmost to ensure fairness in the selection process.
Of course, there’s no way to fully ascertain if a jury is unbiased. To determine impartiality, you need the counsel and representation of someone who was also present during the juror selection — your lawyer.
Contact Rossetti, DeVoto, Medori & Baxter
In the same ways impartial juries represent their communities, our New Jersey attorneys are here to represent you. If you need assertive legal representation in New Jersey, reach out! Call us at 856-475-8261 to request an initial consultation.