If you are charged with a crime in Michigan, hiring a criminal defense attorney is one of the most important decisions you can make. Should the case go to trial, your defense counsel is going to do their best to ensure that anyone that makes it onto your jury is not biased against you before the arguments are even heard. To accomplish this, attorneys will look for anything during the voir dire process that might tip them off that a juror is going to be influenced against their client.
According to Mental Floss, the relationships of jurors are something that attorneys watch out for. A juror hearing arguments in a medical malpractice case could be influenced if the juror knows a doctor or a nurse. When it comes to criminal defense cases, particularly those involving law enforcement, attorneys are likely to be concerned if a juror candidate knows a person serving in law enforcement. These kinds of jurors may be swayed in favor of the prosecution.
Attorneys will also scrutinize candidates for how they feel about the law. During deliberations, it is not uncommon for jurors to speak their minds about experiences with law enforcement, so attorneys are going to be on the lookout for people with opinions that might cause an unfavorable verdict. Sometimes an attorney will ask juror candidates questions intended to reveal their personal biases concerning the law. For instance, an attorney may ask someone if they agree that the law is biased in favor of defendants over victims.
During voir dire, attorneys are going to get a feel for the personalities of the candidates. If a candidate shows a bad attitude while being questioned, the attorney may challenge that juror, believing that the juror’s attitude could be a harmful influence. Conversely, attorneys are more likely to accept jurors who have a positive attitude. Sometimes defense attorneys also want jurors who show an independent streak, since contrarian jurors can cause a hung jury and halt a verdict that could go against their client.
There are other variables that attorneys scrutinize, from the clothing jurors wear, to body language, to even hairstyles. However, attorneys do not have an unlimited number of juror candidates that they can reject, according to Chron.com. Attorneys employ peremptory challenges to eliminate jurors without a stated cause, but these challenges are limited in number. So in the pursuit of the fairest jury possible, attorneys will be careful when they choose to have a juror dismissed.