Criminal Defense in Orange County

The Importance of Jury Selection in a DUI Case

Jury selection, or voir dire, is an essential part of a DUI trial. For this reason, this is something that your Orange County DUI attorney should pay close attention to. During jury selection, potential jurors will be questioned about their background and personal beliefs. During these interviews, your attorney will ask questions designed to reveal any biases that the potential jurors might have that could compromise the fairness of your trial. Jurors with strong biases can be removed from the pool. The prosecuting attorney is likely be focused on screening out jurors who are biased in your favor, so it will be up to your lawyer to screen out jurors who are likely to be biased against you.

There is an art to conducting voir dire. Your lawyer must try to lead the potential jurors to reveal their biases without seeming overly invasive or aggressive, which may lead them to become defensive. Instead, they should ask open-ended questions that allow the potential jurors to explain their opinions and the rationales behind them. They may also ask potential jurors to comment on the opinions of other jurors, rather than coming at them with a direct question. Your attorney will do all of this because biased jurors can be dangerous for your DUI case. They ignore even the most rational and best supported defenses, and they can put people who are not guilty in jail.

For DUI cases in particular, anti-alcohol bias is a major issue. There are people who, because of religious convictions, personal experiences or other factors, are strongly against even legal alcohol use. These individuals make poor jurors, as they are unlikely to give your case fair consideration. Since these biases will not be immediately apparent, your attorney will have to do some subtle probing. One possible line of questioning that can reveal bias is to ask the juror if he or she keeps any alcohol at home. Another would be asking if they would serve alcohol if they had a party or wedding. The jurors' treatment of alcohol will reflect their attitudes towards alcohol.

A juror who keeps a fully stocked bar at home is unlikely to have problematic attitudes towards alcohol. However, a juror who does not drink may be automatically biased against alcohol use. There are other reasons why a person might not drink, such as a medical condition, so your lawyer will need to ask potential jurors who do not drink what their reasons are. A successful voir dire is one of the most important parts of fighting your DUI charges, so it is crucial that you hire an experienced attorney who can handle it. Call The Law Office of Barney B. Gibbs for a free consultation.