A panel of prospective jurors is brought into the courtroom. The first step in selecting the jury begins; the court inquires into who can or cannot serve for the anticipated length of the trial. Some venire members request to be excused citing hardships such as financial concerns, medical conditions or caretaking responsibilities.
But, are there reasons beyond the obvious that influence hardship requests? And might these reasons cause the final hardship-qualified pool to be biased in any way?
A short survey by Vinson identified attitudinal and demographic differences between those who are able to serve in trials of varying lengths and those who are not. Further, using an experimental design, the survey also demonstrated that the way in which the Court defines hardship for jurors and inquires into hardship requests has an impact on prospective jurors’ willingness to serve.
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