The Client’s Rights
Your client has rights in a jury trial. These rights are things to which your client, as a citizen of Florida and as a citizen of the United States, is entitled. The trial lawyer does not approach the trial judge with his hat in his hand on these issues. These things are not discretionary, and the judge will be reversed if your client is denied these fundamental rights. These rights are the building blocks of our legal system, and the Court and the trial lawyer should do everything they can to insure these rights are fully preserved and enforced. This part of the blog deals with two of these fundamental rights – the client’s right to an impartial jury, and the client’s right to have the case decided by a cross-section of the community.
The first right may appear obvious — your client has a constitutional right, in both civil and criminal cases, to have his or her case heard and decided by an “impartial” jury. See Florida Constitution, Declaration of Rights, Article 1, Section 22 and Section 16. This right is discussed more fully on another page of this blog.
Your client also has a right to have his or her case decided by a jury comprised of a cross-section of the community. This can be tricky, because although the case law says your client is “entitled to be judged by a fair cross section of the community,” what it really means is that your client has a right to not have members of certain “cognizable groups” systematically eliminated from the jury. See, State v. Slappy, 522 So. 2d 18 (Fla. 1988) at 20, and State v. Neil, 457 So. 2d 481 (Fla. 1984). This topic is also discussed in much greater detail on another page of this blog. See “Right to Cross-Section of Community”