The jury selection is very important for attorneys and accused because the jury selection may define to a significant extent the outcome of the trial. Therefore, attorneys should be very carefully while selecting the jurors for the trial. The jury selection should be particularly careful in first degree murder cases.
If I were an attorney of a person, who was on trial for first degree trial and was facing the risk of getting a death penalty, I would pay a particular attention to voir dire. In fact, voir dire is an important procedure of the jury selection, when a judge and attorneys can ask potential jurors questions to check whether they are bias free or not (Gross, 1996). The main point of voir dire is to feel jurors. As an attorney of a client accused of first degree murder and facing the risk of getting a death penalty, I would focus on finding out whether juror have any prejudices against the death penalty.
Ideally, I should find jurors that oppose to the application of the death penalty (Cutler, 1992). They may not openly oppose to the death penalty, but I should find out how would they react on cases of erroneous death sentences (Fukurai, 1996). If I feel that a client starts doubting whether death penalty is worth applying, taking into consideration the risk of errors in trials, then the juror suits my client because such a juror may oppose to the death penalty and I will be able to make such a juror doubt whether death penalty is worth applying or not. My task would be just to make the juror think of consequences of an error being made in the trial.
Thus, voir dire is crucial for attorneys to feel jurors and to select the appropriate ones.
Cutler, B.L. et al. (June 1992), “Jury selection in insanity defense cases”, Journal of Research in Personality (Journal of Research in Personality) 26 (2): 165–182
Fukurai, H. (1996), “Race, social class, and jury participation: New dimensions for evaluating discrimination in jury service and jury selection”, Journal of Criminal Justice 24 (1): 71–88
Gross, S. (1996), The Risks of Death: Why Erroneous Convictions Are Common in Capital Cases, 44 Buffalo L. Rev. 469, 494.