Juror Questionnaires in Criminal Cases

Juror Questionnaires;

When do you use them? We use them in cases with complex issues or sensitive issues. So, the sexual assault case as I mentioned where you got 1/3 of your panel who is affected by this. A lot of people are not going to want to admit that in front of 17 people they don’t know. The research tells us that jurors are more likely to be honest on a questionnaire. So if you know you have sensitive issues, put it in that questionnaire because they are more likely to get truthful answers. You can then bring them up and follow up with them on. You don’t have the right to submit additional questionnaires.

So, questionnaires are governed by the Government code and ask the OCA which is the Office of Court Administration which is the job of coming up with a questionnaire. And there’s a case of – basically they made a motion to have an additional questionnaire which was denied and when went up to the Court of Appeals said, there’s no authority for submitting additional questionnaires. The only statue at that point is the provision of the Government code. So how do you get the judge to do it. First off – you’re going to want to file a motion for pre-trial if you think you’re headed towards needing to use a jury questionnaire.

I’ll give you a hint on how to get this done. You have to do all the work. So if any of the work falls on their staff, the judge is probably going to say no. So what you can do is submit it in advance. Yes you have to play nice and let the prosecutor weigh in and let them look at it at and see if they have any objections to it. And then have it prepared in triplicate copies like a lot of the court forms are. So you have 3 basically carbon copies. And then we would bring pencils – those little golf pencils or pens and then have the bailiff pass out our questionnaire along with the writing utensils while they are sitting out in the hallway waiting to be seated. So once they fill out the questionnaire – top copy goes to the clerk – second copy goes to us and the least legible one goes to the prosecutor.

Francisco Hernandez

Author Francisco Hernandez

More posts by Francisco Hernandez