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Selecting jurors in a New York criminal trial

When it comes to selecting a jury for a criminal trial, there are times during the general questioning of jurors in which either the prosecution or the defense objects to a particular juror. However, under New York law, these objections -- also known as challenges for cause -- can only be made for certain reasons.

For example, one of these reasons is that the juror will likely be unable to remain impartial after being presented with the evidence at the trial. Another objection may occur if the potential juror has some sort of relationship to those involved in the case that could prevent him or her from remaining impartial. Such relationships include being a relative by blood or having an affinity within six degrees to the defendant, the alleged victim, a witness to the case or an attorney involved in the case.

In addition, if a potential juror acted as a juror in a civil action against the accused regarding the same incident, there also may be a valid challenge for cause. If the crime carries with it the potential for the death penalty, a valid challenge for cause may exist if the potential juror has a strong and conscientious opinion either for or against the death penalty in a way that would prevent him or her from remaining totally impartial. There are other reasons a challenge for cause could be made, as well.

If one of these challenges is successful, that juror will be dropped from the pool of jurors. Ultimately, it is usually the case that a 12-person jury will be formed. However, as many as six alternate jurors also may be sworn in, if necessary.

Going through the criminal trial process can be incredibly stressful and intimidating for someone who is accused of a crime, particularly when that person is innocent. However, criminal defense attorneys are available to take the lead in defending the accused and fighting for his or her rights.

Source: Laws of New York, Criminal Procedure, Article 270, accessed Sept. 29, 2014

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