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Judge Theresa Lazar Springmann: Voir Dire and Jury Selection - Criminal

Criminal jury trials normally have twelve jurors and two alternates. 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, 25 to 30 prospective jurors will be called to the trial. The parties will be given a computer-generated, random list of the prospective jurors' names. The parties will also be given copies of the one-page jury questionnaire completed by each prospective juror. The Clerk will collect the questionnaires after the jury is selected.

The first 14 prospective jurors on the random list will be seated in the jury box. Judge Theresa Lazar Springmann will conduct an initial voir dire of the prospective jurors covering the following:

  • their familiarity with the case, parties, counsel, or witnesses;
  • potential personal conflicts given the Court's daily trial schedule and the estimated length of trial;
  • their ability to follow the basic rules applicable to criminal cases;
  • their relationship with members of law enforcement or employees of the federal government; and
  • their prior jury experience

After the Court completes its questioning, parties will be given an opportunity to present 15 minutes of voir dire if they have previously agreed to counsels' participation.

After the first round of voir dire is completed, parties' counsel will be called to the bench. Challenges may then be presented, one at a time, alternating between the government and the defendant. Challenges for cause will be taken first. Then the Court will take preemptory challenges. They are exercised alternating between the government and defendant, with counsel telling the judge the name and seat number of the juror being challenged. An excused prospective juror is replaced by the next numbered prospective juror from the random list. The process is repeated until 14 jurors are accepted.

The Court does not allow "back-striking." Once counsel has passed on a prospective juror, that juror cannot be struck in a subsequent round of challenges, unless cause develops.