In the majority of personal injury cases in Florida, the outcome of the case is decided by a jury. The jury makes the ultimate determination as to whether a defendant is liable for the injuries to the plaintiff and how much money the plaintiff is entitled to for compensation for their medical bills and pain and suffering. But who decides who sits on the jury?
Most people are familiar with the process of being called for jury duty, going down to the courthouse, and waiting to see if they will be selected to decide a case. Before a trial starts, the Judge will bring in a large group of those citizens called in for jury duty. Through a process called “voir dire” (also called jury selection), the attorneys representing the plaintiff and the defendant will be allowed to question this group of jurors. Based on the responses from the individual jurors in that group, the attorneys will try to determine which six jurors (plus one alternate) they most want deciding the outcome of the trial.
attorneys for both sides are allowed a certain number of “strikes” and they can use those strikes to eliminate jurors that they feel are not suited for the case. The attorneys are also allowed to ask the Judge to eliminate certain jurors for cause. If a juror admits that they cannot be fair on a case, then they may be eliminated from the panel for cause and will not be a part of the final six. For example, an animal lover may not be the best juror for a dog bite case unless the Judge is fully convinced that person can put their love of animals aside and be fair towards the people and the unique facts of the case in front of them.
Through this process, a large group of jurors will be narrowed down to the six people who will decide your case. There is a lot of strategy and thought that goes into picking the six people who will sit on a jury. Both the plaintiff and the defendant are going to try to get the people they want on the jury and keep off the people that they don’t want so that in theory, a fair and balanced group of six people that will make the ultimate decision on who wins and who loses. Many attorneys believe that cases are won and lost at jury selection which magnifies the importance of jury selection in any given case.