What Can I Expect From Jury Duty in California?
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If you have been called for jury duty in California, you should do everything in your power to answer the call and show up to fulfill your obligation. To discuss your situation in a free, confidential consultation with one of our Ventura or Santa Barbara lawyers, call the Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC, today at (805) 643-5555.
What to Do After a Jury Duty Summons
Many people feel apprehensive or scared when they receive a letter from the court asking them to appear for jury duty. If you have been summoned for jury duty, you should know that there is nothing to fear. This only means you have been pre-selected to be part of the jury selection process. Our legal system, based upon the Seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution, requires trials by jury. In these types of proceedings, a select group of citizens will be part of the trial and will be in charge of making the final determination or rendering a verdict. It is very important to answer the call for jury duty. The last thing you want after receiving a jury duty letter is to ignore it and do nothing about it.
When you are summoned for jury duty, you are expected to appear at the date, place, and time instructed by the court. There may be people who decide to skip jury selection. This is the worst thing you can do, and it could set you up for problems in the future. For instance, if you skip jury duty, the court will commonly send a Failure to Appear notice asking for a valid reason to skip your duty.
If you cannot provide the court with a satisfactory explanation, the court can impose severe penalties. These penalties can range from a warrant for your arrest to fines or jail time, among other possible penalties. Therefore, it is best to appear in court for jury duty instead of skipping. At the Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, we can help you understand how the process works.
Understanding the Jury Selection Process in California
The jury selection process, or “voir dire,” is the process through which both the lawyer for the plaintiff and the lawyer for the defendant choose the people who will compose the final juror panel. During the jury selection process, the presiding judge will make a brief recount of the case in hand and the lawyers who will be participating in it. Once introductions have been made, the plaintiff’s lawyer will start with their questions.
Jury selection serves an essential purpose: to select people who are not biased in the case. For instance, if a juror is being interviewed for a personal injury case and they happened to have been the plaintiff on a recent case of the same nature, this fact may bias that specific juror in terms of the final determination. This fact alone may make that juror unfit to serve as part of the jury panel.
There are disqualifying factors that can affect the final juror selections as well. For instance, the example we gave above represents what is called a “strike for cause.” A strike for cause arises when a juror expresses answers to a lawyer’s question that automatically disqualifies him or her due to bias with the case.
Another way a juror can be disqualified is by a peremptory strike. The peremptory strike is the right a lawyer has during jury selection to disqualify a juror without stating a reason. However, these strikes are not unrestricted. The opposing attorney can challenge a peremptory strike if it is based upon factors such as racial bias. The final determination of allowing or denying a peremptory strike lies with the presiding judge.
Once the lawyers of both parties have finished the interview process, they will select the final jury panel. The panel generally consists of twelve jurors who will be present during the entire trial and render a final verdict once the trial has ended.
California Personal Injury Attorneys Offering Free Consultations
If you or someone you know has received a jury duty letter from the court, you should answer the call and show up for the process. The last thing you want is to face the consequences that skipping jury duty can bring into your life. If you are not sure about what the next step should be after receiving a jury duty letter, our California personal injury lawyers may be able to help. Call the Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC, today for guidance on all your legal matters; reach out to us at (805) 643-5555.