Jury Selection Process
When a trial that will require a jury is about to begin, the judge requests a panel of prospective jurors to be sent to the courtroom. Not all of the prospective jurors in this group will be placed on the jury. The panel must first go through the jury selection process.
Once in the courtroom, the prospective jurors are requested to swear that they will truthfully answer all questions about their qualifications to serve as jurors in the case. The perjury admonishment is then stated, which basically requires potential jurors to tell the truth when answering any questions:
"Do you, and each of you, understand and agree that you will accurately and truthfully answer, under penalty of perjury, all questions propounded to you concerning your qualifications and competency to serve as a trial juror in the matter pending before this Court and that failure to do so may subject you to criminal prosecution?"
The judge and the lawyers may excuse individual jurors from service for various reasons. If a lawyer wants to have a juror excused, he or she must use a "challenge" to excuse the juror. Challenges can be "for cause" - meaning that a reason is stated - or "peremptory" - meaning that no reason need be stated.
The process of questioning and excusing jurors continues until 12 persons are accepted as jurors for the trial. Alternate jurors may also be selected. The judge and attorneys agree that these jurors are qualified to decide impartially and intelligently the factual issues in the case. When the selection of the jury is complete, the jurors agree to the following oath:
"Do you, and each of you, understand and agree that you will well and truly try the cause now pending before this Court and a true verdict render according only to the evidence presented to you and to the instructions of the Court?"
As a juror you should think seriously about this oath before taking it. The oath means you have given your word that you will reach your verdict based only upon the evidence presented in the trial and the Court's instructions about the law. You cannot consider any evidence or instructions other than those given by the Court in the case before you. Remember that your role as a juror is as important as the judge's in making sure that justice is done.