Peremptory Challenges in a Paralysis Injury Case
During voir dire in a paralysis injury case, each attorney in a one plaintiff/one defendant case is permitted to eliminate or strike a set number of jurors from the jury without stating the reason. These are called peremptory (not preemptory) challenges. In cases with multiple plaintiffs or defendants, the judge decides the number of peremptory strikes available to each attorney.
There are many different theories that attorneys study in deciding which jurors to peremptorily strike in paralysis injury cases. For example, Jewish people, African Americans, and individuals with Mediterranean ancestry are generally considered sympathetic to plaintiffs with paralysis injuries. Germans, the English, and people from the Scandinavian countries are often preferred by defense attorneys. People who have been sued before or who have families employed in the insurance industry (or other exacting professions) are typically thought 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 ones. From a plaintiff’s perspective, the preferred age for a juror is between 30 and 55.
The attorneys are essentially free to strike potential jurors who fit into certain profiles, subject to the number of peremptory strikes available. The one exception is race. If a pattern emerges that appears to be based solely on race, this can be challenged legally. This challenge is most frequent in criminal cases.
Removal for Cause
Jurors who appear through their answers to be prejudiced concerning a matter of importance in the trial can be removed for cause. This holds true for paralysis injury cases all other injury cases. There is no limit to the number of jurors who can be struck for cause. If a juror declares, for example, that people who have been injured due to the negligence of others should never be able to sue for pain and suffering, that juror will be struck from the jury for cause. If a juror states that insurance companies should always have to pay, regardless of who caused the accident, that juror will be struck for cause.
After all the strikes have been utilized, the jury is set and the trial of the paralysis injury case can begin. The jury in personal injury cases consists of active and alternate members. The alternates hear the case, but take part in the deliberations only if an active juror is removed from the jury during the trial for sickness or other reason.
Juries do not necessarily require twelve members. Juries of six are not uncommon in paralysis injury cases. The United States Supreme Court in Williams v. Florida, 399 U.S. 78 (1970), concluded that a jury of six was “large enough to promote group deliberation, free from outside attempts at intimidation, and to provide a fair possibility of obtaining a representative cross section of the community.”