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Challenges to the Composition of the Jury Pool

A fox should not be on the jury at a goose’s trial. – – Thomas Fuller

A right to trial by jury is guaranteed under both state and federal law.   In a civil matter, a trial by jury is provided for under Article 1, Section 20 offox and goose 2, and the 7th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  These provisions  assure a citizen the right of trial by jury in matters tried at law.

In criminal matters,  the right to trial by jury is provided for  under Article 1, Sections 13 and 19 of Indiana’s Bill of Rights and the 6th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.   The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana guarantee defendants in criminal cases and litigants in civil cases the right to a trial by jury.   Indiana law states that all litigants have the right to a jury selected from a fair cross-section of the community and that all eligible citizens shall have both the opportunity and obligation to serve.

Questions of equal protection under Article 1, Section 23 of the Indiana Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution may be implicated when segments of society are disproportionately  excluded from service in the formation of the jury pool, or as through the exercise of a party’s peremptory challenges to systematically eliminate a particular class of people from the jury on the basis of race, creed, religion, sex or sexual orientation. Indiana Jury Rule 18 addresses how the Court is to deal with such problems.To secure an impartial jury, the Sixth Amendment requires that the venire be drawn from a fair cross-section of the community. Holland v. Illinois, 493 U.S. 474, 480, 110 S. Ct. 803, 107 L.Ed.2d 905 (1990); Patterson v. Alabama, 294 U.S. 600 (1935), (held that an African-American defendant is denied due process rights if the jury pool excludes African-Americans). The Impartial Jury Clause of the 6th Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution require that the jury pool  fairly represent  a  “cross-section of the community”.   Glasser v. United States, 315 U.S. 60 (1942), (held that exclusion of women (other than members of the League of Women Voters who had taken a jury training class) from the jury pool violated the Impartial Jury Clause of the 6th Amendment, and not, the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, under the  “cross-section of the community” analysis).   Questions of equal protection under Article 1, Section 23 of the Indiana Bill of Rights and the impartiality requirements of Article 1, Section 13 of the Indiana Bill of Rights may  be implicated when segments of society are disproportionately  excluded from service in the formation of the jury pool.

Ultimately, the quest is to obtain a fair and impartial jury.  This goal influences our court rules, statutes and case-law.  I hope this information provides a good starting point for any inquiries or challenges you need to make in securing a fair jury for your client.

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