The Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to an impartial jury. An impartial jury is not necessarily an ignorant one. In other words, potential jurors will not always be excused from service on a jury if they have some knowledge of the case before them. However, candidates who have already formed an opinion as to the guilt or innocence of the defendant are likely to be excused (Schmalleger 2011, pg. 352).
Jurors of six to twelve people are selected from a jury pool. The size of the jury varies from state to state and depends on the type of case the jury is being selected for. In some cases alternate jurors are selected to replace jurors that for some reason or other cannot serve. Alternate jurors sit in on the trial and hear the evidence that is presented to the court although they do not actively participate in the deliberations unless they replace a juror.
There are several challenges that the prosecutor and defense attorney’s use ensure that a fair and impartial panel of jurors is selected. The three challenges that are recognized in the court system are challenges for cause, challenges to the array, and peremptory challenges. The questioning of a potential juror is known as voir dire (to speak the truth). If either the prosecutor or defense believes there is information that suggests a juror is prejudiced about the case, the judge may be asked to dismiss the juror for cause. Challenges to the array are a challenge that seeks to disqualify the entire jury panel. If the jury panel was not selected from a fair cross section of the community or the selection of the jury panel is biased those are challenges to array. The last challenge gives both the attorney and the defense the right to exclude potential jurors without the need of reason or explanation. This challenge cannot be used for discrimination due to race, age, or sex and it is known as the peremptory challenge.
One of the most infamous criminal trials of the twentieth century was the murder trial...
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