Wyoming and South Dakota Attorney Christina Williams explains how lawyers select jury members. There is no sure way to get out of jury duty but being honest may keep you off the jury.
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Hey, everybody. This is Christina Williams with Just Criminal Law. And today I’m going to talk about a question that I get kind of ingest from people. So they’re tongue in cheek asking me, how do you get out of jury duty? I have to go in on Monday and I just really can’t do it this week. So David Mann and I were talking about that.
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We’re going to discuss really what is jury duty and can you get out of it?
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Yeah, it’s always been something that I’ve wondered about, too, because I haven’t had to do jury duty. And you wonder, okay, so walk us through it. Actually, what happens? I mean, I think we all know you get a letter in the mail is the first step. And then what happens after that?
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Well, you’re put into the jury panel for depending on what type of a case it is. But misdemeanors, shorter, shorter term than a felony. But up to six months. And then you have to call in every Friday to see if your number is up and if there is a trial starting that Monday. So it’s just you have to put it on the calendar and you certainly don’t want to miss that call because people have gotten in trouble for not showing up by the judge.
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Okay, So you get the letter and then you’re not actually that’s not actually calling you to jury duty. It’s just saying you now have, let’s call it six months where you have to remember to call in every Friday. So say so. It sounds like most of the time you’re going to hear No, no, no, you don’t. We don’t need you.
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And then one day they’re going to say, yes, you need to come down. But that doesn’t mean you’re even on the jury yet at that point. Right?
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Right. You go through a process of selection that is you get picked.
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Okay. So okay, so now you’ve been called down your process of selection. So tell us. I think most of us don’t even know what that is. This jury selection thing that we’ve heard about, what happens in that?
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Sure. It’s called voir dire and it’s an opportunity for the attorneys involved in the case. It’s a jury trial. And there’s two sides that both sides get to visit with the panel and decide whether or not they think that potential juror would be a good fit for the case.
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Oh, okay. So can you give us an example of the type of question, like a classic case? And then what type of questions might either side ask of these jurors?
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Well, before it all starts, the judge asks you to raise your right hand and to tell the truth. And you know what? I talk to the panel about is telling the truth means if you have something to say, you you go ahead and speak up. You speak the truth. So just kind of keeping to yourself and being, you know, a little bit reserved And you maybe you have something to say, but you don’t want to speak in front of the other people.
00:03:06:07 – 00:03:55:26
You know, that’s that’s not telling the truth. So we just ask simple questions, you know, have you ever been on a jury before? If so, what type of jury was it, a civil case or a criminal case? So we asked some very routine questions. But then, you know, sometimes people in their life have had experiences that would make them less fair and impartial to listen to that case say if it’s a family violence battery case where my client’s accused of family violence battery against a member of his family, if if someone grew up in a household, you know, where there was a lot of domestic abuse, that person probably shouldn’t sit and listen and decide
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the facts of that case because it’s really hard to remove yourself from some of those previous experiences and just listen to what’s presented in court.
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Okay? Okay. So and then the other side is going to ask questions that are going to be looking for maybe opposite answers. And then the the two attorneys end up arriving upon who are the jurors that we’re going to choose. But it sounds like what you’re saying is that there are things that you may be honest about and it may actually discourage the attorneys from choosing you.
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So speaking up and being honest is kind of the way often to not get selected for jury. Is that what you’re saying?
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Right. Yes. I mean, if you have strong feelings one way or the other about the, you know, charge that the the person is on trial for, then, you know, the defense attorney’s not going to want you if you’ve actually been convicted of the charge that that the client is on trial for the state is not going to want you to be a part of the trial.
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And then, you know, the other thing that comes into play is are you friends with any of the attorneys or any of the potential witnesses or, you know, do you know them through business or anything like that? So anything that would create that that impression that you couldn’t be fair and impartial.
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Okay, okay. And maybe, you know, if you have some kind of agenda that you’re trying to play out with this, like they wouldn’t want you for that. So it sounds like it sounds like what you’re saying is the answer to the question how not to get selected for jury duty is usually just to be honest. It’s not like you can control whether you’re going to be selected or not, but if you are honest and you are telling them everything, the likelihood of being chosen is probably a lot less is maybe what you’re saying.
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Exactly. The ones that sit there and don’t say much are definitely in danger of being picked.
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Well, I think this has got to be very useful for everybody. So if they want to contact you to represent them, can they do that?
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Absolutely. We routinely take cases to trial and do this jury selection. And if you find yourself in a situation where you need a trial, you just click the link in the description and then you can call, text or chat with a member of my team any time, day or night. We know you only get one shot at Justice, so make yours count.