Peremptory Challenges in Jury Selection for Personal Injury Cases

Peremptory Challenges

Each attorney in a one plaintiff/one defendant case is permitted during voir dire to eliminate or strike a set number of jurors from the jury without stating the reason. These are called peremptory challenges. In cases with multiple plaintiffs or defendants, the judge decides the number of strikes available to each attorney. There are many different theories that attorneys study in deciding on which jurors to strike peremptorily.

For example, Jewish people, African Americans, and individuals with ancestry from the Mediterranean countries are generally considered sympathetic to plaintiffs. Germans, Englishmen, and people from any of the Scandinavian countries are often preferred by defense attorneys. People who have been sued in the past or who have families employed in the insurance industry or in other exacting professions are thought typically to be unsympathetic to personal injury plaintiffs. Married men and women are preferred by attorneys representing minor plaintiffs. Female jurors are considered by many to be unsympathetic to female litigants, especially young, attractive litigants. The preferred age for a juror from a plaintiffs perspective is someone who is between thirty and fifty-five years of age.

The attorneys are basically free to strike potential jurors who fit into certain profiles, subject of course, to the limit in the number of peremptory strikes available. The one exception involves race. If a pattern of striking emerges that appears to be based solely on race, this can be challenged legally by the other side. However, this form of challenge is most frequently made in criminal cases.

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