How the Jury Is Selected

At the opening of a trial, jurors are selected to try the case.  Civil juries are generally comprised of six persons.  Criminal cases wherein a felony is charged are comprised of 12 persons, while all other criminal juries have 6 members.  Prospective jurors are seated in the jury box, and they swear or affirm that truthful answers will be given to all questions asked of them concerning their competency and qualifications to serve as jurors.  Then, questions are asked of the prospective jurors either by the judge or by the lawyers or both.  These questions must be answered frankly and accurately.  The object is to determine whether any prospective juror is disqualified to sit on the particular case or should be excused from participating in the trial.

There arc many reasons why a person on the jury panel might not be a fair and impartial juror. He or she may be closely related to one of, the litigants; have a business relationship with one of the lawyers or have personal knowledge of the case to he tried. He or she may show Some leaning, one way or the other, regarding the type of case being tried. If a juror thinks he or she may be disqualified for reasons not brought out by the questions, he or she should rise in his or her place and tell the judge and lawyers about it.

Lawyers are within their rights in asking, questions to test a juror's state of mind. If a juror's qualifications are challenged by a lawyer, or if he or she is excused by the judge, the challenge must not he taken as a reflection on the juror's integrity or intelligence. No juror who is excused by counsel should feel that such action was done on any personal basis. The law permits counsel for each party to excuse a certain number of jurors without giving any reason.  However, prospective jurors may not be excused for reasons based upon their race, gender or nationality. A lawyer may excuse a juror in one case, and then in a later case may feel that the same juror is acceptable.

After a satisfactory jury is selected, the jurors swear or affirm to try the case and give a true verdict according to law and evidence.

The information in this section has been provided courtesy of the Indiana State Bar Association.