Michigan CSC Trial: Jury Selection

Once per year, the Michigan Secretary of State compiles a list of citizens who may be eligible to serve on a jury. The Secretary of State uses a list that identifies citizens who possess a state identification card or driver’s license. Then, citizens on this list are mailed a Juror Qualification Questionnaire. After a potential juror completes and returns the questionnaire, a “qualified” citizen may be called to serve on a jury. A citizen may be considered “unqualified” to serve on a jury if he or she is not a United States citizen, does not understand or speak English, is physically or mentally unable to carry out the functions of a juror, is over the age of 70, or has been convicted of a felony.

Once all of the qualified potential jurors are inside the courtroom, the judge may determine that certain jurors are excused from jury duty. The judge will make sure that the potential juror has a valid reason, such as being physically unable to sit in a chair for prolonged periods of time.

The Jury Selection Process during a Michigan CSC Trial

The jury selection process is called voir dire. Each attorney has the right to excuse a certain number of jurors without giving a reason for doing so. In excusing potential jurors, the attorneys may not discriminate based on the juror’s race, gender, or age. The judge and the attorneys will ask the potential jurors questions about their backgrounds and attitudes. In a sex offense case, potential jurors may be asked if they know any victims of sexual abuse, or if they have certain prejudices toward individuals who are suspected but not yet convicted of a sex offense.

Michigan CSC Trial: Questions for an Unbiased Jury

Potential jurors may also be asked what kind of job they have, how much formal education they have received, and if they know any of the parties to the case, including the judge, attorneys, victim, defendant, or any potential witnesses. Additionally, the attorneys may ask if any juror has heard anything about the case in the media or from a friend or co-worker. Attorneys seek to have an unbiased jury, so this means a juror cannot have an already-formed opinion about the outcome of the trial before the trial has begun.

Jurors can be asked if they know any members of law enforcement, regardless if they are involved in the trial. They may also be asked their biases or prejudices, such as if they think law enforcement officers always tell the truth, or if they think that the defendant must be guilty of something simply because they were accused. Other questions to ask potential jurors during voir dire include:

  • What things will you look for in determining whether a witness is telling the truth?
  • Tell me some reasons that you can think of for why a child might make false allegations of sexual abuse.
  • How do you feel about whether children tell the truth more than adults just because they are children?
  • Can a mother cause a child to lie about something important?
  • Can the child’s age affect the manner in which the child describes events that the child sees or hears?
  • Is there a difference in a child’s perception of events based on how old the child is?
  • What would you do if your child falsely accused you of sexual assault?
  • Some people think that if there is more than one child telling the same or similar story about sexual abuse, that the story must be true. What do you think?

Complete and specific information about jury duty in your specific area can be found by visiting your city or county’s government website. If you have been accused of or charged with a sex crime, our office is available 24/7 to help. Call us at 1-800-677-9795 for a free and confidential case evaluation.