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As the murder trial of accused theater gunman James Holmes gets underway in Colorado, the court has reportedly gathered the largest jury pool in U.S. history.
About 9,000 juror summonses were issued to potential jurors in the case, reports Fox News. The judge in the case has said in court filings that he asked for such a large jury pool because of the high-profile nature of Holmes' death penalty case. Holmes is accused of walking into an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater in 2012 and opening fire on the crowd. Twelve people were killed in the attack and 70 were injured.
How will the jury be selected, and what are the two sides looking for during the jury selection process?
Jury Selection Process
The first step in the jury selection process, the issuing of notices or summonses to potential jurors, has already been completed in this case. Starting today, the potential jurors are being assembled into groups of 250 and addressed by the judge before being instructed to fill out a written questionnaire.
Based in part on the answers to these questions, a number of these potential jurors will move to the next step in the selection process: voir dire. The voir dire process varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but generally the judge or the attorneys use voir dire to interview individual jurors about their backgrounds and beliefs in order to determine the juror's overall fitness to serve on the jury and any potential biases.
During voir dire, each side is able to challenge jurors they want excluded from the jury. This allows attorneys for each side to populate the jury with jurors who may be more apt to rule in their favor, or at least fairly in the case.
For James Holmes' murder trial, attorneys will be looking to discover the amount of publicity a juror has been exposed to regarding the case and whether that juror has formed an opinion of Holmes' guilt or innocence before the trial has even started. Attorneys will also look for things in a juror's career, past, or family, that may bias that juror one way or the other.
In addition, jurors in the Holmes trial will be required to be willing to give Holmes the death penalty if the sentence is warranted. In all, 12 jurors and 12 alternates will be selected to serve on the jury.
Opening arguments in the trial may begin as soon as May, reports Fox News.