Disqualifying or Removing a Juror From a Criminal Trial


During a jury trial, jurors have the responsibility of determining the defendant’s guilt or innocence based on the evidence presented during the trial. A good juror must remain fair and unbiased during the entire trial. A juror’s ability to judge fairly is taken into account during the pretrial jury selection as well as during the trial.

There are certain circumstances when a juror can be removed or disqualified to ensure the defendant receives an impartial jury.

Disqualifying Jurors During Jury Selection

The prosecution and the defense both have the opportunity to disqualify potential jurors during the jury selection based on a variety of reasons. Some potential jurors are disqualified from serving based on their failure to meet certain legal requirements. Others are disqualified based on potential biases they may hold.jury-disqualification

Some reasons for disqualification during the jury selection include:

  • Failure to speak English
  • Failure to provide evidence of U.S. citizenship
  • Previous conviction of a crime
  • Prior experience as the victim of a similar crime
  • Has a connection to someone in the trial
  • Has a connection to law enforcement
  • Possession of a physical or mental ailment

Removing Jurors During Trial

Attorneys and judges also have the option of removing jurors once the trial has started. Once a juror is chosen to serve, he or she must remain unbiased and fair during the entire trial. The court can remove a juror at any time during the trial for a variety of reason. The reasons for removing a juror during the trial include:

  • Absence
  • Tardiness
  • Contact with the defendant or witnesses
  • Personal illness or illness of a family member
  • Talking or falling asleep during the trial
  • Disobeying the law of the court
  • Being charged with a crime
  • Showing bias

Replacement of Disqualified Jurors

If a juror is removed during the trial, the court has several options for continuing the trial. They may replace the disqualified juror with an alternate juror who was chosen during the jury selection process. Alternate jurors are chosen during the pretrial jury selection in case a regular juror is unable to fulfill the requirements. If no additional jurors are available, the court may also choose to continue the trial with a lesser amount of jurors.

The court may also declare a mistrial. If a mistrial occurs, the prosecution can later charge the defendant with the same crime and have a completely new trial with a new jury.

To learn more information about excluding jurors before and during a trial, get in touch with Mario Madrid at 713-877-9400.

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