Jury Selection: A Real Sleeper, But So Very Important

The right to a jury of one’s peers is unique to the American justice system. As a criminal defense attorney, it can be among the most important parts of a client’s trial, whether the charge is conspiracy to distribute cocaine, a sex crime, or murder. Arguably, the rest of your client’s life is the hands of 12 total strangers.


The truth is that when a criminal defense attorney picks a jury, be it in Phoenix, Tucson, or any other state or federal court in Arizona, you really have little say about the jury pool. Through the process of jury selection, known as voir dire (French for “to tell the truth), some only basic information about potential jurors is garnered. That information is typically limited to:

  • Name or Juror Number
  • Occupation or former occupation, if retired
  • Married or Single
  • Spouse’s occupation
  • Number of children under 18
  • Prior jury service.

That’s it.


In Arizona, both the prosecution and the defense have the right to a jury trial. In other words, both sides have to agree.

If facts can be interpreted in multiple ways, a jury is often times better than a bench trial, also known as a trial to the court. On the other hand, if the trial revolves around a discrete legal issue – often times on fraud cases, a judge can sometimes be better to isolate that issue and render a concise ruling that can be more advantageous to the person on trial.


Having done more than 100 trials, I know that the follow up questions I ask are far more valuable than the canned answers that the court requires jurors to give. For example, a juror’s feelings about police officers (pro or con) can make all the difference in the world. Seeing how a juror engages with you when you question them one on one can sometimes be a barometer of how receptive they will be to your case, and more importantly your client.

Conducting jury trials is an art. While anyone can slap some paint on a canvas, it takes years of acquired skill to paint with detail and proficiency. The same is true with presenting trials as in order to be truly effective in front of a jury, it takes years of precision in the most difficult of situations for a criminal defense attorney to successfully litigate jury trials in complex felony cases.

Contact a Phoenix Criminal Defense Lawyer Today!

By beginning my trial preparations the day I take a case, I am inherently more prepared than prosecutors, due entirely to the time, dedication, and effort that I put in for my clients. Jury trials are very serious business and are not to be taken lightly. Jury selection is critical, but the hard work comes long before it begins.

If you are facing serious felony charges and expect to go to trial in a Phoenix state or federal court, contact me at (602) 663-9100 to set up a confidential and personal consultation. Every day is a day that could be spent getting ready preparing to present your case to the jurors who could give you your freedom.

being sworn in
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