Most people avoid jury duty as much as possible. It is, after all, inconvenient and (often) tedious, and it has the potential to rip someone out of their routine and daily life for weeks if the jury ends up sequestered. In fact, stories abound about the lengths some people will go to just to avoid being selected for a jury.
That makes it especially difficult to understand why anybody would try to get onto a jury – but it happens. There are so-called “stealth jurors” out there who hide their experiences and lie about their feelings or beliefs just so they can get through voir dire (the process where biased people in the jury pool are separated from the unbiased).
Why are stealth jurors a problem?
Essentially, it comes down to this: A jury is supposed to go into a case without any preconceived notions. They must also be willing to listen to the evidence presented by both sides. Then, they must be capable of applying the rule of law to the case as fairly as they know how.
A stealth juror is someone with an agenda of their own, and that circumvents the rights of the defendant to a fair and impartial jury. Some stealth jurors are undoubtedly hoping for a book deal, a movie deal or some other payout after a sensational case is settled. Others may want to influence the outcome of a case because they’ve gotten emotionally involved with the situation through news reports and social media.
The consequences when a stealth juror is involved in a case can be significant. For example, a stealth juror is accused of hiding her own history as a victim of domestic violence in the case of Scott Peterson, who was convicted of murdering his wife and unborn child more than 16 years ago. It’s possible that he may receive a new trial now that the truth has been discovered.
Stealth jurors are just one problem that can happen in a trial, and they can be important to any appeal. Find out more about your legal options.