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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 75992 Find in a Library
Title: Jury Selection in a Federal Criminal Case (With Form)
Journal: Practical Lawyer  Volume:26  Issue:4  Dated:(June 1, 1980)  Pages:27-47,50-52
Author(s): J J Cleary
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 14
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Voir dire selection in Federal criminal cases is explored in this article; current practice, the initial inquiry, and proposed questions are considered.
Abstract: One of the most critical stages of a criminal trial is the voir dire. Although in Federal criminal cases judges control the voir dire, counsel should seek an opportunity to examine the jury personally, prepare questions to be asked by the judge, and monitor the proceedings. Examination of prospective jurors is governed by rule 24(a) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. Theoretically, this rule not only permits counsel, but even the defendant, to personally examine the prospective jurors. However, the optional language of the rule combined with the discretion allowed the judge has obliterated the role of counsel in voir dire examination. In a 1977 study, 75 percent of the Federal judges surveyed excluded oral lawyer participation from voir dire examination. It is suggested that existing practice and procedure regarding the selection of jurors must be improved. If defense counsel's request for voir dire is denied, the defense should request that questions be put to each prospective juror to ensure impartiality in the trial and to allow intelligent and informed exercise of peremptory challenges. These questions, contained in the form presented herein, focus on such issues as juror's acquaintance with the judge, juror's acquaintance with defendants and witnesses, residence, occupation, education, and previous experience with the criminal justice system. Proposed questions to the prospective jurors must be drafted with care. The jury selection system known as the Arizona Plan, which is spreading throughout the federal courts, successfully incorporates many selection techniques. The advantage of this system is that counsel does not have to exercise the peremptory challenges in the presence of the jury because challenges are made by deletions in the prospective juror list. At the present time, the Federal appellate courts overwhelmingly support the discretion of the trial judge in limiting the scope of voir dire questions. Nevertheless, effective voir dire is possible, and counsel should be given some limited opportunity to personally address prospective jurors. Four articles for suggested reading are listed.
Index Term(s): Criminal proceedings; Juror characteristics; Jury selection; Trial procedures; Voir dire
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