In a civil case involving a car accident, medical malpractice or wrongful death that goes to trial, each side has an opportunity during the jury selection process to excuse jurors.
Typically, each side will have three chances in order to remove a juror that they do not like. A peremptory challenge is nothing more than an opportunity for the attorney to simply excuse a juror that they do not like. It also means the attorney does not have to give any reason about why he is excusing the juror.
What happens if the attorney has used up all of his three challengers and now encounters a potential juror that he believes will not be helpful?
If he wants to excuse that juror, you must determine first whether the juror has any bias or preconceived ideas about his client or his case. If the juror says that he can be fair and impartial, the attorney will have great difficulty explaining to the judge why this juror should be excused.
If on the other hand, the juror expresses answers that indicate that he is prejudiced or favors one side or another, and the judge will likely discharge that juror in a process known as a “challenge for cause.”
A challenge for cause is an opportunity for the attorney to explain to the judge why he believes that a particular potential juror should not be sitting on this case. The defense attorney will then have an opportunity to explain his position and the judge who supervises this process will make a decision about whether this potential juror will be permitted to sit or will be excused.