Stages of a Criminal Trial

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Submitted By tonyiscool
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A criminal trial is engineered to determine the guilt or innocence of a defendant. Essential to that process is the jury. The jury is charged with the responsibility of digesting the facts of the case and then impartially rendering a proper verdict. The process of selecting a jury is critical to the efforts of the prosecution and defense teams. Because criminal trials are adversarial in nature both the prosecution and the defense will attempt to seat juries they believe might ultimately find in their favor at the conclusion of the trial. With such high stakes on the line jury selection is an essential stage in a criminal trial. Jury selection commences just after the trial itself initiates and prior to the delivery of opening statements. None of the proceeding stages of a criminal trial can proceed without the seating of an impartial panel that is made up of a representative sample of the community. Seating a jury that reflects the greater community can be a challenge. Additionally, meeting the desires of both the prosecution and defense can be a challenge as both sides want jurors that would be more likely to rule in their favor. Both are permitted to question potential jurors. Attorneys have the opportunity to challenge potential jurors in order to have the individual removed from the panel. The challenge can be based on reasons that include a belief that the juror cannot render an unbiased decision or can be made without explanation although this type of challenge, a peremptory challenge, is limited. A judge in Cook County, Illinois, addressed potential jurors during jury selection in a case centering the murder of seven people in a fast food restaurant over fifteen years prior. The judge stressed the important nature of their service and took the time to let the potential jurors just how invaluable their contribution to the criminal justice process would…...

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