Jury Selection: A Courts Reporter Reflects

I sought the help from fellow journalists in researching a story about social media and its affect on the courts.

I was lucky enough to hear back from John Painter, Jr., a retired Oregonian courts reporter (and, as no one is immune from the process, a seven-time potential juror), who offered me these thoughts on jury selection, the process some lawyers call “pick ’em and stick ’em.”

“In my experience as a juror, during voire dire I was bumped from every case but one (both sides had run out of challenges) solely because as a court reporter I knew too much about trials and the trial tactics of both sides.

In my experience as both juror and journalist, I came to several conclusions:

(1) Jurors being questioned routinely lie about their positions on issues they think could get them bumped;

(2) lawyers on both sides harbor deep-seated prejudices about who would make a good and bad juror and the common rationales for bumping certain types of jurors are mostly without real-world foundation, but “blogging” news web sites is a red flag;

(3) lawyers involved in criminal litigation invariably will disqualify any potential jurors with any link to any media (and in this day and age that includes anything dealing with the web);

(4) no expert worth his/her salt can tell you anything substantive about who would be a good or bad juror; humans are just too complicated.”

2 thoughts on “Jury Selection: A Courts Reporter Reflects

  1. I think it’s interesting that people supposedly lie to not be bumped. Unless one is getting paid while being on jury duty, or has some interest in being a juror, why would anyone lie to be on a jury?

    I must be unusual because I have considered answering questions so I would definitely be bumped.

  2. I worked as a detective in an area heavily populated with graduate engineers (GE HQ)….attorneys, (on both sides), would almost routinely disqualify them from jury duty because of their “need” for facts, this was in both civil and criminal matters.

    This is a clue as to the integrity of the legal profession and the justice system…..I have seen the shocked look on many a public spirited citizen at a voir dire session when the inquiring attorney said “Thank you Madam but you are excused”, after she announced that she was willing to give his client a fair chance if the “evidence was there.”

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