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FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR / ASSISTANT UNITED STATES ATTORNEY

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Jury Selection / Voir Dire | Denver Criminal Defense Attorney

A large group of people selected for jury duty are brought into a courtroom.  They are questioned by the judge, prosecutor and the defense attorney.  The questions are designed to determine who can be fair in a particular case.  Hypothetical questions are often used as it is improper to discuss the facts of your case during jury selection.  Depending on the nature of the case, this process can last from 1 hour to many days.

After questioning the prospective jurors, each side will have an opportunity to ask the judge to excuse a juror “for cause.”  A challenge “for cause” is based upon a legal objection.  Prospective jurors may be challenged “for cause” if:

1.  Absence of any qualification prescribed by statute to render a person competent as a juror;

2.  Relationship within the third degree, by blood, adoption, or marriage, to a defendant or to any attorney of record or attorney engaged in the trial of the case;

3.  Standing in the relation of guardian and ward, employer and employee, landlord and tenant, debtor and creditor, or principal and agent to, or being a member of the household of, or associated in business with, or surety on any bond or obligation for, any defendant;

4.  The juror is or has been a party adverse to the defendant in a civil action, or has complained against or been accused by him in a criminal prosecution;

5.  The juror has served on the grand jury which returned the indictment or on a coroner’s jury which inquired into the death of a person whose death is the subject of the indictment or the information, or on any other investigatory body which inquired into the facts of the crime charged;

6.  The juror was a juror at a former trial arising out of the same factual situation or involving the same defendant;

7.  The juror was a juror in a civil action against the defendant arising out of th eact charged as a crime;

8.  The juror was a witness to any matter related to the crime or its prosecution;

9.  The juror occupies a fiduciary relationship to the defendant or a person alleged to have been injured by the crime or the person on whose complaint the prosecution was instituted;

10.  The existence of a state of mind in a juror manifesting a bias for or against the defendant, or for or against the prosecution, or the acknowledgment of a previously formed or expressed opinion regarding the guilt or innocence of the defendant shall be grounds for disqualification of the juror, unless the court is satisfied that the juror will render an impartial verdict based solely upon the evidence and the instructions of the court;

11.  The juror is an employee of a public law enforcement agency or public defender’s office.

(Colorado Code of Criminal Procedure Rule 24)

In the end, 12 people are selected to serve as jurors for felony cases; 6 people are selected for misdemeanors; 3 people are selected for petty offenses.  In some very rare cases, fewer than those numbers are permitted.  Sometimes alternate jurors are selected.  The alternates hear all of the evidence, but are dismissed before deliberations.  The alternates stand ready to serve as jurors should one of the 12 become sick or unable to continue their service.