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Judge Robert L. Miller Jr. - Jury Selection and Voir Dire: Criminal
Judge Robert L. Miller Jr.
325 Robert A. Grant Federal Building
204 South Main Street
South Bend, IN 46601
(574) 246-8080

Jury Selection and Voir Dire: Criminal

Judge Miller will seat twelve jurors and two alternates for a trial of two weeks or less, and will increase the number by one for every additional week or part of a week. The defendant is entitled to ten, and the government to six, peremptory challenges, with an additional peremptory per side for every two alternate jurors. Generally, twenty-five to thirty prospective jurors will be called to the trial. The parties will be given a random list of the prospective jurors' names. Attorneys for the parties may view the juror questionnaires in the Clerk's Office after 2:00 p.m. on the Friday before trial commences. Copies of the juror questionnaires will be made available to counsel on the morning of trial.

The first sixteen names on the random list will be the jurors placed in the jury box when voir dire commences. Judge Miller does not physically move prospective jurors around the courtroom during jury selection; seats will be left empty, and prospective jurors will be tendered in the order established by the random list.

Unless otherwise indicated, Judge Miller will conduct the voir dire. Proposed voir dire questions must be filed, and a list of possible witnesses submitted to chambers, at least one business day before the trial. Upon request made before the first day of trial, Judge Miller ordinarily will allow counsel to conduct ten minutes of voir dire. Voir dire will be conducted of the entire venire at the same time.

If, during the course of the judge's voir dire, a venireperson appears about ninety percent certain to be subject to a cause challenge, Judge Miller will offer to excuse the venireperson (to avoid answers that might contaminate others) unless counsel have additional questions to propose. Counsel with any objection to the immediate removal of that venireperson should ask to approach the bench with a question. If neither side asks to do so, that venireperson will be excused immediately.

After the questioning is completed, Judge Miller will invite counsel to the bench and invite additional questions made appropriate by answers given on the questionnaires or during voir dire.

Still at the bench, Judge Miller will then invite all cause challenges directed to any member of the panel (not just those in the jury box).

Still at the bench, Judge Miller then will tender for peremptory challenges the first twelve unchallenged persons on the random list. The court will invite a single peremptory challenge at a time, first from the defendant(s) then from the government, then back to the defendant(s) and so on. Once both sides report no further peremptories as to the tendered group, those remaining in that tender will be deemed jurors, and the judge will continue down the random list to tender the number necessary to bring the total of persons selected and tendered back to twelve. Judge Miller does not allow backstrikes; once counsel report no further strikes to persons remaining in a tender, those individuals are accepted as jurors.

Once twelve jurors have been selected, the court will repeat the peremptory challenge process to select the alternate jurors.


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