Once a determination has been made that a contested trial before a jury of one’s peers is warranted, the potential makeup of such a jury within a dui prosecution becomes essential to victory. It is through the skillful selection of a jury through a process called voire dire that the probability of a successful outcome can become won or lost.
In the state of Indiana, as in all states, there are prescribed procedural trial rules within which an Indiana owi lawyer and prosecutor operate when selecting potential jurors seated to hear a case. Through what are called, “peremptory challenges” attorneys can remove a person from consideration from hearing a dui case for no reason other than a gut feeling that such a person’s outlook may be counter to the opportunity of giving a client a fair trial. The number of such challenges depends in Indiana on whether the criminal prosecution is for a misdemeanor dui or felony.
Potential jurors can additionally be removed, “for cause,” meaning that due to one’s professional status or occupation, knowledge of the individual on trial, etc., such an individual can be removed from consideration by agreement of the parties without using up a valued peremptory challenge.
How peremptory challenges are effectively utilized is a hallmark of an effective dui defense attorney in Indiana. This endeavor is considered so vitally important that there exists a new cottage industry of jury questionnaire consultants who for up to thousands of dollars will advise defense attorneys as to the suitability of potential people to hear and decide one’s dui determination.
I take the position that a dui attorney’s experience should be sufficient to enable the lawyer to succeed in this mission of jury selection without additional help or cost unless the stakes are so severe that the additional expense may wish to be considered. Through the submission of written preliminary jury questions a basic framework can be reviewed of a strategy to later question each potential juror orally when and if such an individual is seated for potential pre trial consideration.
Just what types of questions are most effective in rooting out the true potential biases is key. Political viewpoints, outlook on the criminal justice system and prejudice of guilt of a defendant by virtue of an arrest alone are consistent elements of successful questioning.
It is imperative that a dui attorney’s questions be creative and not merely run of the mill boilerplate inquiries that do not encourage forthright responses. For example, it is rare that a person directly asked whether he or she is one capable of rendering a fair verdict will just come out and state an inability to do so. Such a response would invite one to discredit there own sense of ethics and/or sense of fair play within an open public forum. As a result, there must be subtle methods of interrogation that will allow the dui lawyer in Indiana the means within which to truly establish the best citizens available to give your client the ultimate opportunity for a fair and impartial trial.
Successful types of creative interrogation is many and varied depending upon the defense lawyer. I like to use subliminal methods of inquiry to help aid my assessment. Toward this goal I will frequently ask potential citizen jurors questions such as has the individual ever had a bumper sticker on his or her vehicle, what did the sticker say and for what purpose or cause. What professional associations or volunteer organizations is one affiliated with? What was the profession of the person’s parent(s), grandparent(s) etc.? What contributions have been made whether through time and/or money to a political party, candidate or law enforcement agency?
As can be detected, such questioning is just the tip of the iceberg in uncovering the true nature of a potential juror’s undisclosed bias that he or she may not be willing to directly state within the open public forum of a court of law. How a dui attorney performs such an important task will go a long way in predicting the successful outcome of clients who have staked their futures on the attorney’s ability to secure the most favorable verdict conditions possible.