5 Things That Disqualify Potential Jurors

The jury selection process is one of the most important steps in a trial, but there are some things that disqualify potential jurors. Attorneys for both sides have the chance to ask questions and determine which individuals they want and do not want on that jury. As a law or criminal justice student, you may want to know which factors to look out for when picking a jury.

Personal History

The things that disqualify potential jurors can include the personal history of a potential juror. One of the first questions that the attorney will ask if whether the juror knows anyone involved in the case. A juror who is the neighbor of a police officer testifying in the case of the child of one of the attorneys cannot serve on the juror. The belief is that those jurors will feel swayed to pick one side over the other without listening to all the evidence.

Victims of Past Crimes

Rape victims should never serve on the juror for a rape trial because they have a personal bias and will feel more for the victim than the defendant. Attorneys will always talk with potential jurors and find out if they were victims of similar crimes in the past. Whether the case involves someone who stole from a local business, assaulted a person or broke into a home, anyone who went through a similar case in the past should not appear on that jury.

Knowledge of Case

Other things that disqualify potential jurors include any knowledge they might have of the case. This commonly occurs in larger cases with more publicity. A murder trial or a case involving someone famous will likely be a common story on the local news and in the newspaper. The more familiar a juror is with the case, the less likely either side will want that person on the jury. Any information they bring with them will taint the way they respond to the evidence and sway them towards one side before the trial even starts.

Personal Opinions

Attorneys often ask potential jurors about their personal opinions during jury selection. Personal opinions that relate to the case can keep jurors from voting in the way one attorney wants them to vote. During a capital murder trial, the defense may not want jurors who are against the death penalty, and during a trial involving a single mom, the prosecution won’t want jurors who have traditional views on marriage and believe that mothers should always stay with their children. Personal opinions are one of the things that disqualify potential jurors because it may keep them from listening to the evidence presented and making a decision based solely on that evidence.

Connection to Law or Law Enforcement

According to Dave Cheng, a lawyer and writer for Business Insider, one of the things that disqualify potential jurors is any type of connection to either the lawyers working on the trial or law enforcement in general. Those who worked as police officer or for a law enforcement department and those who work as lawyers have a better understanding of the law than other jurors do. Attorneys will generally turn down those jurors.

Jurors are responsible for listening to all the evidence presented during a trial and making a decision regarding the guilt or innocence of the person on trial. Before the trial starts, both the prosecution and defense will go through jury selection and narrow down the juror to a smaller number of people. Some of the things that disqualify potential jurors include personal opinions, past history and a connection to law or law enforcement.