Impartial Jury:- Article III, Section 2 of the United States Constitution provides that trial by jury is required in all criminal cases except in the cases of impeachment. The adversarial system of the United States provides three kinds of juries; grand juries (evaluating if enough evidence to warrant a criminal indictment), petit juries (trial juries), and civil juries (deal with civil lawsuits).
The right to an impartial jury is available throughout the United States largely by virtue of the Sixth Amendment. However, the Fifth and Seventh Amendments also provide for the jury system and its relevance as Bills of Rights.
To do complete justice while adjudicating cases, the importance of impartial jurors cannot be ignored. As per the text of the Sixth Amendment, in a criminal prosecution, the accused ‘shall’ possess the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury.
What do you mean by Impartial Jury?
Those jurors who are determined to evaluate the evidence presented during the trial and decide the guilt or innocence of the accused without any bias are said to be impartial jurors. They are bound to follow the application of the governing law with the assistance of the trial judge and to deliver in good faith a just verdict.
It is a difficult job to define the exact meaning of an impartial jury, especially these days when it is almost impossible to keep the jury away from social media and other outside influences that can impact their decision-making during a trial.
The ideal way to identify impartial jurors would be to pick from different backgrounds and community sectors as per the requirements of the Sixth Amendment.
The Importance of Impartial Jury
The impartiality of a jury is very crucial to the idea of democracy and due process of securing justice. An impartial jury always gives a fair, just, and speedy trial. It assists the judges of the trial court in deciding the fate of the defendant. The impartial jury’s decision will never be marred by personal biases and preconceived notions. The impartial jury also ensures the application of the Bill of Rights enshrined in the United States Constitution.
The Process of Selecting the Prospect Impartial Jury
Random pooling on the basis of a registered voter list is considered to initiate the process of jury selection. Courts refer to this pool of jurors and make an initial jury panel. Then lawyers and judges question jurors regarding their knowledge of facts and their opinions about the probable issues that may arise during the trial. Also, their life experiences are asked, which may impact their perception regarding the analysis of evidence during the trial.
However, judges are empowered to remove the jurors in case of preconceived biased notions or conflict of interest. Moreover, lawyers are also empowered to exclude a few members of the panel.
This right is known as the right to a peremptory challenge. Six exclusions are given to both the parties in a trial. Following such a process, the trial starts once the partial or biased jurors are removed.
Ensuring the Impartiality of the Jury
One of the challenging things to observe is whether the jurors in your trial are impartial or not. The ideal way to analyse this is to observe the individuals comprising the panel of the jury. Specifically, observe the diversity in the panel.
As stated above, it is a must that the panel of jurors be from a diverse community. If one can observe the diversity of different backgrounds in the panel, one can sense the satisfaction that the lawyers and the judge ensured justness and fairness in the process of selecting the panel of jurors.
The harsh reality is that there is no definite way you can ascertain whether a jury is biased or not. Your lawyer can provide assistance to determine the impartiality while being active during the juror selection process.
The Challenge in the Digital Era
As discussed above, the entire credibility of the jury system is based upon the jurors’ impartiality. The most significant challenge is to ensure this impartiality in this rapid ever-evolving digital era. The possibility of jurors engaging with the published information regarding the pending cases is increasing exponentially.
Keeping a check on the jurors to not get influenced by this expansion of digital access to the information related to pending cases is impossible.
It is ultimately left to the conscious steps of the juror alone to stop this intake of information related to the pending cases via digital communication during the trial. So, how far the jury is impartial or unbiased in a specific case is a question of fact depending upon the case and circumstances attached to the case.
The critics of the jury system have raised the question of whether the jury was uninfluenced and impartial by the news pieces published in the recent famous defamation lawsuit between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard.
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Q. What is the meaning of an impartial jury?
An impartial jury can be described as one that deals with a particular case without any prejudice or biases. The decision in the trial is purely based on the evidence furnished in the case.
Q. What is the importance of an impartial jury?
To get justice according to the due process of law, it is of paramount importance to have an impartial jury since the decision by an impartial jury would not be based on any personal belief or preconceived notion.