Monday, April 13, 2009

Economic woes and jury selection

I came across this interesting article in the Connecticut Law Journal this afternoon on the challenges of picking a jury in the current economic climate (special thanks to Mr. Ernest Svenson, also known as @ernieattorney on Twitter). It seems that Connecticut is having a problem seating jurors due to concerns over personal economic issues.

Many Connecticut trial lawyers say prospective jurors are begging off jury duty more than often than ever because they're hesitant to spend time away from their jobs or job searches. The longer the trial is expected to be, the greater the reluctance to serve. -- "The Reluctant Juror" 
The concern is that these jurors would be unable to devote their full attention to the case at hand due to their preoccupation with their own situation.

Kathleen Nastri, a Connecticut trial attorney, said that as soon as a potential juror states they are concerned about keeping a job, they are excused from service.

The current economic environment gives us another potential challenge for cause in Texas if the juror admits that he or she cannot give the matter at hand his or her full attention because the juror is concerned about his or her economic welfare. 

Ask panelists if they feel they can't devote their full attention to your client's matter because they are concerned about losing their job or paying the mortgage. If they tell you they can't, challenge that juror for cause. In the event the judge overrules your challenge, ask for an additional pre-emptory strike. If you don't get it, object to the composition of the jurybefore they are sworn in and note on the record who you would have struck from the panel had you not had to use a pre-emptory strike on the juror in question.

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