All jury trials begin with the selection of the jury. A pool of potential jurors is assembled according to the selection process of the particular jurisdiction. The jury pool reports to the courthouse on a particular day and is divided into groups from which the jury that will hear the specific case is chosen.
The jury selection process begins before the jury pool is even identified. A trial lawyer creates a profile of a model juror when preparing a case for trial. This profile is simply a compilation of juror attributes the lawyer thinks will be favorable to the client's case. From this profile, the lawyer creates a list of questions designed to identify those attributes in each potential juror at trial.
Each member of the jury pool provides the court with certain information — name, address, employer, age, etc. This information is available to litigants in advance of the trial. The paralegal trial assistant should obtain this information from the court clerk. These jury lists are often circulated among firm employees to see if any jurors are known within the law firm. In some cases, the paralegal trial assistant will work with an outside investigator developing additional background information on the potential jurors. Where permitted by the trial judge, additional written questionnaires prepared by the parties are sent to the jurors in advance of the trial. The cost of these types of efforts is quite high, so they are only undertaken when the trial involves significant pretrial publicity, emotionally difficult issues, or may result in significant precedent.
When the trial commences, the lawyer for each party is allowed to question the prospective jurors. This process, known as