A right to a jury trial is one of the most crucial aspects of criminal proceedings in the state of Ohio. A jury will determine whether the evidence against you is sufficient to convict you of whatever you are charged with. However, at the stage of jury selection, your attorney does have a say in who ends up on the jury through peremptory challenges.
As the American Bar Association explains, prospective jurors are called in to a court and then reviewed by a judge to evaluate their fitness for serving on a jury. Some potential jurors are excluded for reasons that might make them unfit, such as a personal bias that would preclude them from being impartial in their judgment, or if they possess a criminal background.
At this stage, your attorney also has the ability to interview people in the jury pool. Defense attorneys will examine jurors for factors that might cause them to be biased against you. For instance, an attorney might discover that a prospective juror is related to a member of the plaintiff’s legal team or perhaps even the plaintiff. When an attorney requests that a person be excluded from jury service for a specific reason, this is known as dismissing a person for cause.
However, an attorney also can request that an individual be excused from service for no specified reason at all. These requests are made as peremptory challenges, and are exercised when an attorney believes that a juror may not render a favorable decision for the client. Attorneys will possess a limited number of these challenges, as opposed to “for cause” exclusion requests, which are unlimited. The number of peremptory challenges an attorney can request will also depend on the case or lawsuit involved.
Because criminal defense matters vary so widely from case to case, you should not consider this article as legal advice. Its purpose is only to educate Ohio residents on how juries operate and how attorneys take part.