jury box court roomArticle I Section 22 of the Missouri Constitution holds that litigants have a right to trial by a fair and impartial jury of twelve qualified jurors. A qualified juror has been defined as one who is “in a position to enter the jury box disinterested and with an open mind, free from bias or prejudice.” Catlett v. Ill. Cent. Gulf R.R. 793 S.W.2d 351, 353 (Mo. Banc 1990).  The Missouri Supreme Court held earlier this month in Thaddeus Thomas et. al v. Mercy Hospitals East Communities, et. al, No. SC96034 that “The trial court is in the best position to evaluate a potential juror and is afforded broad discretion in determining whether the potential juror is ultimately qualified to serve.” The Court provided wide discretion to the trial judge’s ruling regarding the impartiality of a prospective juror.

Continue Reading Juror Impartiality: The Equivocal Juror

As many trial attorneys will tell you, the most crucial phase in many trials is jury selection. While its significance is known, attorneys are often left with minimal information gathered through juror questionnaires or voir dire from which they are forced to analyze cause challenges and make strike decisions.  However, the growth of social media over the past decade has enabled lawyers to gather additional information about the interests, activities and proclivities of veniremen that allows counsel to make more informed decisions during the jury selection process.

Social Media Jury

According to Pew Research Center, 74% of online adults use social media sites. The numbers are consistent across gender, education and income levels.  A trial attorney, therefore, has the ability to discover information about three out of every four prospective jurors on the Internet.


Continue Reading Social Media and Jury Selection