General Question

KatawaGrey's avatar

Are people who work in the criminal justice system allowed to be on juries?

Asked by KatawaGrey (21461points) November 2nd, 2010

I know that when a jury is being picked, people are rejected if they have some kind of connection to the case. Once, my mother was even rejected because I had a foot injury and the case for which she was going to be on the jury dealt with a leg injury of some kind.

So, with this in mind, wouldn’t an employee of the criminal justice system know too much about the inner workings of a trial and criminal justice system in general to serve on a jury?

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10 Answers

lillycoyote's avatar

Yes, I think people who serve in the criminal justice system should be able to serve on juries. I don’t think anyone should be automatically excluded from serving on a jury merely because of what they do. Someone in those kinds of jobs might know more about how the system works but that doesn’t mean that they are intrinsically incapable of objectively weighing the evidence presented at trial in any one particular case. As you are aware, during jury selection both the defense and the prosecution have opportunities to dismiss jurors. I’m not a lawyer but I believe that either side can strike as many jurors as they like “for cause,” though I don’t know exactly what sort of biases or conflicts of interest, etc. are necessary to meet the legal standard of “for cause” but I think it generally includes things like you mentioned, having a foot injury in a foot injury case, a personal experience that might bias the person, or something like knowing the people involved in the case, something that demonstrates they can’t be impartial, like a strong opposition to the death penalty in a death penalty case, and both sides are permitted a certain number peremptory strikes, where they can dismiss a juror for no reason at all, at least not one that they have to defend to the court. That seems to be a pretty good system a pretty good process, one that can weed out anyone who works in any area of the criminal justice system, or anyone else who can’t serve as an objective and impartial juror.

phaedryx's avatar

Experience should automatically preclude you? I don’t follow.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@phaedryx: I didn’t say that. I’m just curious if working so closely with the kind of people who are on trial would affect whether or not someone could be on a jury.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
KatawaGrey's avatar

@seazen: Mayhaps you meant to post that on a different question…

john65pennington's avatar

You are correct. police officers, even retired officers, are normally rejected for jury duty. like you said, they have too much knowledge of the internal workings of the criminal justice system.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@john65pennington: Thank you. I figured it was something like that. However, they are allowed to serve on juries, that answers all of my questions nicely. :)

iamthemob's avatar

@KatawaGrey – lawyers are often rejected as well. No citizen is precluded from serving on a jury because they belong to a certain class…but a juror will be eliminated for cause if they are unable to be partial. This happens clearly only when (1) the juror is closely related in some way to one of the party, or (2) the juror says so.

Jurors are rarely struck for cause…mostly they’re taken off because the lawyer thinks they’ll more likely go against their client. A lot of the time, people in the criminal justice system can form opinions about one side or the other, so it’s likely they get struck, you’re right. Also, lawyers will probably not be the best jurors in a criminal trial from the prosecution’s standpoint. The prosecution has to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt. Most citizens don’t really know what this means – most lawyers do, and will hold the prosecutor to that standard.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Everybody is fair game for the jury pool, but each lawyer is allowed to strike a few potential jurors without challenge, usually because of their background or history during jury selection. For example, at a DWI trial the defense lawyer would strike out someone that had been harmed by a drunk driver. It’s just trying to find a sympathetic audience for his or her client. Same with corrections workers.

diavolobella's avatar

I am a paralegal and I have served on a jury. At the time, I worked in a criminal law practice, yet I was on the jury for a case where the defendant was accused of DUI and reckless driving. If I had personally known either the judge, DA or the defense attorney, it would have mattered, but since I did not, it was not relevant. In fact, I think the fact that I knew the law was something both sides were happy about.

ask me later how we ended up finding the guy guilty of DUI, but not reckless driving

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