The U.S. Supreme Court recently overturned a decades-old murder conviction because it was found that the jury selection process at trial had been tainted. According to the court’s opinion, when the prosecutors made their jury selections, they unconstitutionally dismissed jurors based on the color of their skin. What resulted was the conviction of a black man for murder by an all white jury.
This was an astounding result, considering how old the conviction was and the fact that two trial courts and every court of appeal has denied this man his petition. Now he no longer faces the death penalty, but will have his case retried. Even this victory, however, may not be enough to guarantee his freedom. He is even on record as having admitted to killing the woman all those years ago.
This rule does, however, underscore how important jury selection is, particularly a criminal case. DWI trials are no exception to this rule. If you decide to have your case tried in front of a jury on whether you are guilty of DWI, jury selection in that trial will be one of the most important steps involved.
Like any criminal charge in Texas, those accused of DWI by the state have a right to trial by jury. In that trial, the prosecution will have a chance to put on its evidence of guilt. Additionally, the defense will have the chance to rebut that evidence, and if appropriate, put on a defense, as well. All of this takes place in front of a jury.
Laying the process out in that manner puts the importance of jury selection into perspective. This process is known as voir dire to lawyers, and takes place at the beginning of the trial. During this process the judge will read a set of instructions to the jury, and each lawyer will observe the responses and reactions. From there, the lawyers have a chance to ask questions themselves.
Following this initial process is the time for lawyers, both the defense and prosecution, to choose the jurors. Depending on how the potential jurors answer questions, lawyers will choose to strike them from the pool, or keep them as potential jurors. Now a lawyer can strike a lawyer for any number of reasons, but none of those reasons include for racial reasons. The Supreme Court long ago announced a doctrine that makes it unconstitutional for a lawyer to get rid of a juror because of that juror’s skin color.
Voir dire is just the beginning of a trial, but an essential part to it. This and other parts of a criminal trial should only be left to those defense attorneys with the experience and know how you need to defend your case. At The Wilder DWI Defense Firm, we will aggressively represent and defend you in your DWI case. Contact us today so we can begin defending your rights.