That Trump jury questionnaire? It’s a…jury questionnaire

Maybe that doesn’t make sense. I’ll explain:

I’ve been listening to lots of legal experts and experts-in-being-totally-hooked (as I am) on certain current legal matters. They are talking excitedly about what they’ve learned about the questionnaire to be filled in by the Trump criminal trial jury.

So I’ve been listening, too. But it sounds to me that the jury questionnaire is not particularly different from any jury questionnaire used for notable cases which have attracted media focus.

I once assisted on a long jury questionnaire for a murder trial with a couple of terrific jury consultants who’d been retained by the criminal defense lawyer for whom I worked. A fascinating experience from which I learned things I can apply to the public discussion about the potential Trump jurors and their questionnaire.

The information requested of each juror is pretty standard. What newspapers do you regularly read? What magazines? What TV shows do you watch? What TV news shows do you watch? How many times a week? What genre of books do you like? What books are you reading now?

I’d guess questions about apps would be somewhere on contemporary questionnaires.

What is your profession or job? Whom do you work for? If I remember, a general range of annual salary was requested.

Have you served on a jury before? Criminal or civil? Have you ever been a victim of a crime? (A bit of dark humor: once when I was voir dired for a jury, that question was asked orally of all of us; every potential juror raised his/her hand. Maybe this is a New York thing?) The type of crime might be asked, to investigate whether it might be relevant to this particular case, if it so traumatized a person, he/she couldn’t be fair as a juror.

It’s a fairly subtle way to gather a picture of a juror’s general point of view. It’s a kind of culling mechanism.

I haven’t yet heard any discussion of peremptory challenges during voir dire, through which each side can simply dismiss potential jurors without supplying a reason. Challenges are limited in number, though; the defense can’t peremptorily remove all potential jurors whom they perceive as being antagonistic to Trump, and go on paring down the potential jury for days on end. Same thing with the prosecution.

Here’s New York State’s law on peremptory challenges:

Peremptory challenges. The plaintiff or plaintiffs shall have a combined total of three peremptory challenges plus one peremptory challenge for every two alternate jurors. The defendant or defendants (other than any third-party defendant or defendants) shall have a combined total of three peremptory challenges, plus one peremptory challenge for every two alternate jurors. The court, in its discretion before the examination of jurors begins, may grant an equal number of additional challenges to both sides as may be appropriate.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Judge Merchan does allow more of these challenges for each side. It’s that kind of case.

I don’t know if this is a rule or not but neither side in a trial gets the ideal jury. If a lawyer jumps on his peremptory challenges early in the voir dire, he might be out of challenges for later jurors.

This entry was posted in Crime & Punishment, Indicting Trump, Journalism, Law, suits and order, The Facts of Life, Trumpism and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.