Evaluating the Jury Questionnaire for the George Floyd Case

In a recent interview with WCCO News, I was asked to provide insight into the jury questionnaire recently distributed to potential jurors for the George Floyd case.

In a high profile, media-saturated case involving racial issues, the jury questionnaire may be more helpful for the defense rather than the prosecution.

First, it encourages people who favor the side of prosecution to speak too freely about their preconceived opinions on the case, which can serve to document why the person should be struck in a cause challenge. For instance, in this questionnaire, there are many questions about how one feels about the case, the protests, the police, and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Second, it provides backup for potential Batson Challenges in which one side may be accused of striking potential jurors for racial reasons. In this case, one might think that Black jurors would be more on the side of the prosecution and White jurors on the side of the defense. If one side is accused of making racially motivated strikes, the jury questionnaire may be used to show that – “No, really, we struck this juror due to her answers to these specific questions, not due to race.”

In the George Floyd case, the use of a jury questionnaire, even a well-balanced one, may be more favorable to the defense side.

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