Today is when 12 jurors – and 6 alternates – will be selected to hear the case of the U.S. v. Raniere Et Al (Actually, since all five of Keith Raniere’s co-defendants have already pleaded guilty to various charges, I guess we can just drop the Et Al at this point).
They will be selected from the pool of 55 or so potential jurors that have already passed the initial scrutiny of the presiding judge, U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis – and the attorneys for the prosecution and the defense.
In this final stage of the jury selection process, Raniere’s attorneys will have 10 peremptory challenges that they can utilize to exclude specific individuals from the final lists of jurors and alternates.
The prosecution will have 6 peremptory challenges to do the same thing.
How each side uses – or doesn’t use – its peremptory challenges may go a long way in determining whether Raniere spends the rest of his life in federal prison – or walks out of court a free man (at least pending a decision from the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of New York as to whether Raniere will face other charges there).
So, how do both sides decide which people they want on – and which people they don’t want on – the jury?
Let’s take a look at some aspects of the jury selection process…
To begin with, it’s quite likely that the Raniere’s defense team has utilized one or more jury consultants to vet all the potential jurors and to develop a profile of the “ideal juror” from the standpoint of the defendant.
Depending on how much of a retainer fee Marc Agnifilo was paid, he may even have conducted a mock trial in order to get a better idea of what type of juror would likely be receptive to Raniere’s side of the case.
It’s possible – but much less likely – that the prosecution team has also utilized a jury consultant.
But regardless of whether they’re relying on outside expertise – or simply on their own experience and gut feelings – the attorneys for both sides will already have developed a profile of what an “ideal juror” looks like from their perspective.
There are lots of self-proclaimed “experts” with respect to the selection of jurors – and each has her/his own “rules” for how to go about the process.
But the biggest factor today will likely be how Judge Garaufis handles the final selection process.
Will he bring in the potential jurors one at a time – which is how he handled the initial part of the voir dire process?
Will he ask all the questions to the potential jurors or will he allow the attorneys for each side to ask questions directly?
Will he have each potential juror probed in detail about their views on a variety of issues or will he limit the probing to issues that are directly related to the upcoming trial?
Regardless of the process and procedures that Judge Garaufis chooses to follow, at some point, each side will have to decide whether to utilize a peremptory challenge to exclude a potential juror.
In making those decisions, each side will evaluate that potential juror against the profiles they have developed for their “ideal juror”.
From the defense’s standpoint, the profile of the “ideal juror” may include some/all of the following characteristics:
– Younger rather than older (Someone in their 20s would be great, 30s would be OK, and anyone older than that is increasingly iffy)
– Male – but not the parent of a daughter
– Member of a fraternity or sorority while in college
– Politically progressive – but not a feminist or pro-feminist
– Independent thinker
– No religious affiliation
– No family or close friends connected to law enforcement
– Has had some personal issues with law enforcement
– Never heard of NXIVM/ESP or Keith Raniere
– Not Hispanic
– Visible tattoos
– Non-conformist or contrarian
– Member of one or more groups and/or organizations
– Modern values
From the prosecution’s standpoint, the profile of the “ideal juror” may include some/all of the following characteristics:
– Older rather than younger (Someone in their 60s would be ideal, 50s would be OK, and anyone younger than that is increasingly iffy)
– Mother or father with one or more teenage daughters
– Not a member of a fraternity or sorority while in college
– Politically conservative
– Member of a mainstream religion
– Has family or close friends connected to law enforcement
– Has never had any personal issues with law enforcement
– Has read about NXIVM/ESP or Keith Raniere
– No visible tattoos
– Not a member of any groups and/or organizations
– Traditional values
For those who want to read more about various opinions on the jury selection process: