What Is A Juror’s Role In A Criminal Case In Los Angeles?
With the new rules now, everybody who is lawfully able to serve on a jury – in other words – people who don’t have felony convictions and are American citizens, must serve on a jury and notification is sent out to everyone and then they have the one-day rule which basically means that if you don’t get on a jury in one day, then your jury service is over, which is great because I’ve been doing this for twenty-five years and it used to be that they could keep you there for quite some time and make you keep coming back and waste a lot of your time. So, the one-day service rule is an excellent factor of time but also the two things that I see come along with that is they’re capturing more people on the jury pool, number one; and number two, they don’t take many excuses for why you can’t serve on a jury pool.
It used to be the first thing they would ask is can anybody serve on this jury. They would tell you how long the trial was going to be and people that came up with a bunch of excuses, a lot of those people would be permitted to get out of jury duty. Now, they don’t mess around with you. They’re going to try to make every single person serve as a juror in Los Angeles County. So, your role as a juror is to basically sit on the case, listen to the evidence and decide whether the prosecutor has me all of the elements of the crime or crimes that they’ve charged the person with in Los Angeles.
If they haven’t met each of the elements of the charged crime, then you have to find the person not guilty. Also, your role is to follow the rules and jury instructions that are given to you by the judge. Those people who cannot follow the jury instructions or the rules, will not be permitted to serve on a jury. For example, each person must follow the rule that a criminal defendant in Los Angeles is presumed innocent unless the prosecutors can prove them guilty. So, you have to be able to follow that presumption of innocence. It is crucial in any criminal case in Los Angeles. You also have to be fair and unbiased. If somebody is believed to be biased against an individual for one reason or another, the lawyers and the judge will ask questions about that and they will not let a person serve on a jury who is biased against a criminal defendant because they want all the jurors to be fair and unbiased when it comes to a criminal case in Los Angeles County.
Basically, the judge, prosecutor and defense attorneys will ask questions of each juror who is a prospective juror in a case to determine whether that particular juror can be fair and impartial. If it’s determined that they can be fair and impartial, then they will be put on the jury panel and then the judge will let the attorneys excuse and thank jurors that they don’t want on the panel. This is called a preemptory challenge.
So, once a person gets through the challenges for cause – which means a defense attorney, for example, could say, you know what, I want the court to excuse juror number two because that juror has shown that they cannot be fair in the case, and obviously you have to give the reason why. The prosecutor will get to speak about that and then the judge will ultimately decide whether that juror should be excused for cause. Once the person is passed on for cause, then that person is eligible to serve on the jury, and basically the prosecution and defense will ask them questions and they will each have a chance to decide whether they want to have the juror on the panel or not.
So, serving on a jury in America is one of the greatest honors, even though some people think that it’s a waste of time, it actually is part of the one of the greatest systems in the world. So, if you’re picked to serve on a jury, you’re lucky. You’re going to learn something. You’re going to enjoy yourself, and it’s an experience – especially if you have a great criminal defense attorney and a great prosecutor on it – that you won’t soon forget.
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