You’ve been hurt because of the carelessness or negligence of another person. You’ve hired legal counsel, filed your complaint, conducted discovery and completed all pre-trial motions. There are still a few things that will need to happen before a trial can begin. Before those procedures begin, you can expect that the judge will once again encourage you to explore the possibility of settlement. A trial can be complex, expensive and time-consuming. The court has a vested interest in avoiding a trial.
Selecting a Jury
Since opening statements will be made to the jury, the jury must be in place before the trial begins. Jury selection involves a process called voir dire. The process can vary slightly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but essentially proceeds as follows:
- The court notifies a number of citizens that they have been called for jury duty and must report to the court.
- Potential jurors are called in random order and may be questioned by both sides, in an effort to determine whether they can listen to the facts of the case and render an impartial decision.
- The seating of a potential juror may be challenged in two ways—through a peremptory challenge or through a challenge for cause. A peremptory challenge can be for any reason—typically the attorney does not have to state the reason. However, the parties have a limited number of peremptory challenges. To the contrary, there are no limits on the number of jurors who may be challenged for cause, but the attorney making the challenge must convince the judge that the juror would not be able to render an impartial decision. The judge has ultimate discretion on all challenges for cause.
Some courts will complete this task before trial, while others will wait until it seems certain the case will be deliberated by the jury. In the American justice system, juries make determinations of fact and judges make determinations of law. When deliberating, the jury must first make a determination of fact and then must apply the law to that determination. That’s the purpose of jury instructions—to tell the jury what legal result they must come to based on their determination of the facts.
Often, both parties submit proposed jury instructions and the court makes a final determination.
Contact the Law Office of Howard D. Popper, P.C.
Send us an e-mail or call us at 973-993-8787 to set up a free initial consultation. We have office locations in Morristown and Newton, but will visit you in your home or the hospital, if necessary.
We take all personal injury claims on a contingency basis. You will not incur legal fees unless attorney Popper recovers compensation for your losses.