The Risk of Juror Prejudice During Oklahoma Drug Trials
During Oklahoma drug trials, defendants may face a risk of juror prejudice. While many people are aware of jurors’ role in deciding a criminal case, many may be unaware of how hidden biases and prejudices affect that case’s outcome.
When a criminal case goes to trial, lawyers have the opportunity to screen out potential jurors during a process called jury selection. While the lawyers do not always need a reason to eliminate a potential juror, they often attempt to make decisions based on obvious or hidden prejudice against their clients.
For example, the lawyers or the judge may ask questions about potential jurors’ background, jobs, education, and family. These questions may reveal, for example, that a juror works for the police department. The lawyer for a defendant accused of drug crimes may want to strike this potential juror because he or she may have biases against people who use or sell drugs. Alternatively, questioning may reveal that a potential juror is more likely to be sympathetic to the defendant.
Effect of Prejudice and Bias
It’s hard to screen for every possible prejudice or bias that jurors might have. All too often, jurors decide cases based on their preconceived notions about a defendant or the crimes he or she committed. When the jurors go to the jury room to deliberate, hidden bases for decision-making may come out.
In drug cases, prejudice and bias are very common. With the opioid epidemic sweeping the country, legalization of medical marijuana, and high rates of meth use in Oklahoma, people have strong opinions about drug use. Jurors may have family members who use illegal drugs – or even family members who have died from drugs. For a defendant accused of drug distribution or manufacturing, a jury of people whose lives have been affected by drugs could be a tough crowd.
While we would all like to think that defendants are innocent until proven guilty, jurors’ preconceived biases and prejudices may blind them to the evidence. In a criminal case, both the defense lawyer and the client play a part in presenting the evidence to the jury in a way that helps them see beyond prejudice. People accused of drug crimes should avoid playing into stereotypes of drug users or drug dealers.
If you are accused of a drug crime, talk to your lawyer about how you will present the case in court. Express your concern about biases and prejudices so that your lawyer can effectively select a jury and conduct the trial.
If you need representation in an Oklahoma court for a drug charge, seek out the attorney who knows the system. Clint Patterson, Esq., of Patterson Law Firm, a former Tulsa prosecutor, now uses his trial experience to defend Oklahomans accused of drug crimes and DUIs. To schedule a case evaluation, visit Patterson Law Firm online or call Clint’s office at (918) 550-9175.