In all Massachusetts criminal jury trials, the court is most focused on impaneling a fair and impartial jury. If the judge or the court fails to impanel a fair and impartial jury the case could be appealed and a new trial could be granted. Therefore, the judges try very hard to impanel unbiased jurors that can be fair and impartial.
To ensure that the jurors are fair and impartial to the case, each juror is asked to fill out a juror questionnaire prior to coming to jury duty. During the impaneling process the jurors are also asked a series of questions. Some judges like to ask the questions themselves, while other judges have their clerk’s ask these questions. Some of the standard questions are:
- Do you have an interest or stake in this case?
- Do any of you know the defendant, witnesses, or any lawyers in the case?
- Are any of you aware of any bias or prejudice that you have toward the defendant?
- Are any of you aware of any bias or prejudice that you have toward the prosecution?
- Have any of you heard anything about this case?
- Do any of you not understand that the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt?
- Do any of you not understand that the prosecution has the burden to prove these charges beyond a reasonable doubt?
- Are any of you more or less likely to believe the testimony of a police officer just because he or she is a police officer?
- Do any of you know of any reason why you would not be impartial in his case?
If any juror answers yes to any questions posed by the judge or the clerk, the juror is usually seen at sidebar. If the judge rules that a juror cannot be impartial then the judge will excuse the juror. Once the judge and the lawyers are satisfied with the jury the extra jurors will return to the jury pool.
For questions call Attorney Jason Chan at 508-808-8902.