When a judge empanels a jury, the question of whether the juror can be fair and impartial is always asked. Some people reply honestly that they can or cannot render a fair and true verdict. Others will state that they cannot be fair to get out of what our society considers to be a burden to be avoided. Still others will lie and promise to be fair, when they have a hidden agenda to punish what they consider to be a wrong.
No matter who sits as a juror, they bring with them a lifetime of experiences that influence how they see the world. Some good experiences which will render them compassionate to someone who is profoundly injured and can never work again. Some bad experiences that drive them to punish a large corporation or a police officer who they view as part of a corrupt system.
No one come to sit as a juror without a set of preexisting beliefs that will influence the way they view the evidence that they are about to receive. One need only look at the way our news outlets analyze the same story from opposite political viewpoints to see how one's biases can spin the outcome to a predetermined result.
Admitting that there are biases that cannot be controlled and trying to identify those biases is the first step in trying to get a fair and impartial result. Speaking and presenting the evidence to those who view it with skepticism is the first step in trying to get an impartial result. Our court system does only minimal screening to identify those overtly biased. It is the subtle prejudices that we carry within us which will govern how a juror will ultimately view the evidence. Recognizing this is the first step toward understanding how a lawyer must deal with the realities of our jury system.
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