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Judge Lee: Jury Selection and Voir Dire Instructions - Criminal

In criminal jury trials, the court normally seats 12 regular and 2 alternate jurors. Generally, 35 to 38 prospective jurors will be called to the trial. The parties will be given a random list of the prospective jurors' names. The parties will also be given copies of the one-page (two sided) questionnaire that prospective jurors fill out when they arrive in court. The Clerk will collect the copies of the questionnaire back from you after the jury is selected.

The first 14 names on random list will be the jurors placed in the jury box when voir dire commences. Judge Lee will conduct the voir dire of the potential jurors. If jurors in the box have answers to the court's questions, the court will hear those answers. If unseated jurors in the spectator section have answers to a posed question, the court will make a record of that juror's name, but will only pursue the question when and if that juror is called into the box. After the Court completes its questioning, the parties will be called to the bench and given an opportunity to ask the court to ask additional questions. Jurors may be excused for cause by the court during the voir dire process. If this occurs, that juror will be replaced by the next numbered juror from the random list. After the questioning is completed, counsel will have time to confer with their clients and then will be called to the bench for challenges.

Challenges are presented orally, one at a time, alternating between the plaintiff and the defendant. Challenges for cause will be taken first. After challenges for cause have been completed the Court will then ask for peremptory challenges. The government in a criminal case is given six peremptory challenges, and the defendant is given 10. The first round of challenges are to the people seated in the first 12 seats only - the regular jurors. Challenges as to the alternates will be done after the first 12 seats have been agreed upon. After the court has excused any persons from the first 12 seats that were challenged in that round of challenges, the clerk will call the next numbered people from the random list to take the seats of those who were excused. This procedure will continue until the first 12 jurors have been selected.

1 additional challenge is given to both the government and the defendant for challenging the alternate jurors. They are also exercised orally, alternating between the plaintiff and defendant, with counsel telling the judge the name and seat number of the juror being challenged.

It is important to remember that the court DOES NOT ALLOW "back-striking". Once you have passed on a juror, you cannot challenge that juror in a subsequent round of challenges. This does not apply to the alternates during the early rounds of peremptory challenges, as the jurors in seats 13 and 14 will only be available to challenge after the first 12 jurors have been selected.

If we run short of prospective jurors, Judge Lee will confer with counsel as to whether the case can proceed with fewer than 2 alternate jurors.