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Court Discusses Jury Selection


When a person is charged with a felony crime, their case is sent to a Grand Jury in most states before the indictment is confirmed and sent to trial. The Grand Jury is a group of jurors who review the circumstances surrounding a case and determine with the guidance of the prosecutor from the District Attorney’s office if the elements of the crime have been met to proceed with a prosecution. At each stage of a criminal trial, there are requirements that must be met in order for the state to prosecute a person for the commission of a crime.

A New York Criminal Lawyer said these steps are important to protect the rights of every citizen in the United States. While it may seem to some that criminals are provided with too many rights and the ability to escape justice based on mistakes that are made by the prosecution team, it is important to remember that these safeguards are in place to enable a defense team to protect an innocent person from being incarcerated for a crime that they did not commit. At any stage of a criminal prosecution, the defendant is considered innocent until proven guilty. The job of the defense attorney is to protect the rights of all citizens by ensuring that the prosecution is not allowed to circumvent the safeguards that the legislature has placed in effect. Toward this end, many times defense attorneys notice improprieties in legal process that could have long reaching effects on all people.

One case of this type was heard in New York on March 17, 1975. In this case, the defense team noticed that the statutory requirements that were on the law books were not being followed by the Kings County New York court system. The process for the selection of grand jurors was detailed in the Judiciary Law § 609. The statute requires that the county clerk of each county must make an investigation of persons who are qualified to serve as trial jurors. The clerk will then require that the jurors provide legible fingerprints of both hands in order to ensure that they have not been convicted of any felony and certain misdemeanor charges in the state of New York. In this statute, the wording of the statute itself refers to the juror pool as applicants for the Grand Jury.

Based on the word applicant, the defense team of one particular defendant made a motion to overturn his conviction because according to the common practices in Kings County at that time, the people in the jury pool were not allowed to apply for service on the Grand Jury. The county clerk of Kings County determined who among those who were called to jury duty in the jury pool met the qualifications to sit on the Grand Jury. A Long Island Criminal Lawyer said those people were notified that they had been chosen and were then allowed to refuse or agree to sit on the Grand Jury. At no time, was anyone allowed to specifically apply to serve in that capacity.

The court found this argument to be interesting in that the entire argument hinged on an interpretation of one word that was found in the law. The defense argued that it is not uncommon for one word in a legal statute to have a profound effect on the interpretation of that law. The court determined that it was not practical to give the one word in this case such power. The use of the word applicant in the statute at question is merely a descriptive to describe the people who are in a jury pool. A New York Sex Crimes Lawyer said the court does not believe that it was ever the legislative intent to imply that people in a jury pool were ever applicants to perform the duty of either trial jury or Grand Jury.

At Stephen Bilkis & Associates with its trial lawyers there are convenient offices throughout New York State and Metropolitan area. Our felony crime attorneys can provide you with advice to guide you through difficult situations. Hiring a criminal Lawyers can prevent you from losing precious time with your family.

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