The death of University of Texas student Haruka Weiser in 2016 shocked the University of Texas and the city of Austin.
Preparations for the trial of the man accused of the student’s killing were underway this year.
Weiser was an 18-year-old student from Oregon. She was found dead in April 2016 with signs of trauma to her body and evidence of sexual assault, according to police. The body was found in Waller Creek near the campus’ Alumni Center.
They arrested Meechaiel Criner, a 17-year-old homeless man and charged him with murder.
A recent report in the Statesman noted how lawyers on both sides of Criner’s murder case were trying to agree on which questions would be asked of potential jurors prior to the Oct. 2 trial.
Jury selection is an important part of the criminal justice process that is often overlooked. Criner’s lawyers pointed out the process started out with a sample questionnaire including about 25 questions.
These questions typically change as the process is held.
Criner did not make an appearance at a status hearing in July. Attorneys spoke quietly with Judge David Wahlberg about the questions.
The court was reported to be sending out 160 to 170 jury summons, about twice the amount sent out during a normal murder trial. Jury selection was slated to take place after the responses were received and would cover two days as opposed to one.
The jury selection process is set out on the Texas courts’ website.
The mere fact you receive a summons for jury duty does not mean that you will end up serving on a jury.
However, if a potential juror is qualified to serve and does not ask to be excused or exempted, he or she will be able to participate in the jury selection process which may take only a day or a part of a day to complete.
The process involves groups of about 50 or 60 prospective jurors being assembled in a courtroom with the judge, the attorneys, and typically the parties of a particular case.
Lawyers conduct a process called voir dire, which means to speak the truth. Under this process, the attorneys and the judge have the opportunity to ask each prospective juror a set of questions.
While the lawyers are aware of your answers to the questionnaire filled in earlier by potential jurors, the attorneys, and the judge may still cover the same ground in questions or ask additional questions to ensure the jurors are qualified to serve in a fair and impartial manner.
Following the questioning, the prospective jurors, the attorneys and the parties they represent are given an opportunity to challenge individual prospective jurors. After the challenges are heard, a jury with one to four alternates is installed to hear the evidence in the case.
If you have been charged with a crime in Austin, Round Rock, Laredo or elsewhere in Texas, it’s important to hire a meticulous criminal defense attorney who will look after your interests in every stage of the judicial process. Call us at (512) 474-4445.