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A jury pool is a group of people from which a legal system may draw to fill a jury. In most places, a jury pool is made up of citizens of a particular jurisdiction who are considered legal adults. Typically, people who have been convicted of committing serious crimes are excluded from a jurisdiction’s jury pool. For example, individuals who have committed felonies are usually restricted from serving on juries. Essentially, a jury pool is a population of people who are eligible to serve on jury.
In many places, potential jurors are picked through random selection methods. A jurisdiction may get names from a list of registered voters or from lists of people who have driver’s licenses. Sometimes lists of taxpayers are used to add to the jury pool. The sources a legal system uses for names may vary, depending on the country and region in which the jury is needed.
Once potential jurors are selected by random means, the jury selection process isn’t over. Usually, the court sends questionnaires and summonses to the homes of potential jurors via the mail system. The questionnaires often ask potential jurors whether there are any valid reasons they cannot serve on a jury or deliver a fair verdict. Those who are legally eligible to serve on a jury must show up in court when summoned. In some cases, jurors may be excused, but barring official excusal or postponement, each potential juror’s appearance is mandatory.
When potential jurors are selected from a jury pool and appear in court, they usually go through a process called voir dire. During this process, potential jurors are interviewed. Often, a judge asks them questions aimed at determining which potential jurors will be impartial and which prospects are likely to impede justice. In some cases, a judge may also allow lawyers to question the potential jurors. Those who are apparently unable to help in delivering a fair verdict are usually dismissed.
Attorneys often are allowed to challenge potential juror selections. For example, if a juror has a relationship to either person or company involved in a case, a lawyer may challenge the prospective juror, and a judge will decide whether or not the juror should be excused. Additionally, jurors may be challenged for no stated reason. This is called a peremptory challenge, and both sides of a lawsuit may be allowed a set number of these challenges.
It is worth noting that some people may be summoned from a jury pool but not get very far in the jury selection process. A court sometimes summons people far in excess of the number of jurors it actually needs. It may dismiss excess jurors before they appear in court or before they go through the juror interview process.