Jury Selection: General Voir Dire Principles

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Jury Selection: General Voir Dire Principles

Postby Administrator » Tue Oct 04, 2005 10:28 am

Jury Selection

In general for both Civil and Criminal Jury Selection:


Jury selection begins with voir dire. The principal purpose of voir dire is to probe each panelist’s state of mind so that counsel can accurately assess suspected bias or prejudice. Scott v. Lawrence, 36 F.3d 871, 874 [9th Cir. 1994].

The voir dire process is designed to insure, to the fullest extent possible, that an intelligent, alert, disinterested and impartial jury will perform the duty assigned to it. Salazar v. State, 562 S.W.2d 480, 482 [Tex. Crim. App.1978]; Petteway v. State, 758 S.W.2d 861 [Tex. App. - Hous. [14 Dist.]1988]. An impartial jury is one which favors neither party, which is unprejudiced, disinterested, equitable, and just and is composed of jurors who have not prejudged the merits of the case. Shaver v. State, 280 S.W.2d at 742. The jury acts as a unit and the disqualification or prejudice of one of its members destroys the impartiality of the body and is sufficient, upon a motion for new trial, to vitiate the verdict. Petteway v. State, 758 S.W.2d 861 [Tex. App. - Hous. [14 Dist.]1988]; Salazar v. State, 562 S.W.2d at 482; Shaver v. State, 280 S.W.2d at 742; Norwood v. State, 123 Tex.Crim. 134, 58 S.W.2d 100, 101 [1933].

The process is designed to give the parties sufficient information to exercise their challenges for cause and their peremptory strikes. Darbin v. Nourse, 664 F.2d 1109, 1113 [9th Cir.1981]. A fact is material if it is so substantial and important that if the facts were known the party may have been influenced to exercise a peremptory challenge . Blaylock v. State, 537 So.2d 1103, 1106 [Fla. 3d DCA 1988].

The due process clause entitles a person to an impartial and disinterested tribunal in both civil and criminal cases. Marshall v. Jerrico, Inc., 446 U.S. 238, 242, 100 S.Ct. 1610, 1613 [1980]. A fair trial in a fair tribunal is a basic requirement of due process. In re Murchison, 349 U.S. 133, 136, 75 S.Ct. 623, 625 [1955]; Baran v. Port of Beaumont Nav. Dist., 57 F.3d 436, 444 [5th Cir.1995].

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