Intimate Partner Sexual Abuse
Adjudicating This Hidden Dimension of Domestic Violence Cases
National Judicial Education Program
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Module VIII: Jury Selection

Key Points: Jury Selection
  • Selecting a jury for an intimate partner sexual abuse trial or a trial of co-occurring intimate partner sexual abuse and battering presents many challenges.
  • Thorough, careful voir dire is essential to identify potential jurors who, because of personal experience or adherence to the myths about rape, domestic violence and intimate partner sexual abuse, cannot listen to the evidence with an open mind and follow the law.
  • A significant percentage of women and men in the jury pool for a sexual assault or domestic violence case will have to be excused because of their personal experience with these kinds of violence.
  • It is best practice to use jury questionnaires to elicit this information with maximum privacy and sensitivity.
  • Judges should know what resources are locally available for counseling potential jurors who disclose sexual assault that occurred at any time in the juror's life.
  • The judge should make clear that even unreported instances of sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse and child sexual abuse are to be included in answering the questionnaire.
  • A significant percentage of people have serious misconceptions about sexual assault, domestic violence and intimate partner sexual abuse. They do not believe that husbands use force to compel their wives to have sex, or that there can be nonconsensual sex in a relationship with consensual sex, or that marital rape is a serious crime.
  • Voir dire should include behaviorally-based questions and questioning by analogy to fully elicit experiences of victimization and perpetration not acknowledged in questionnaires and to probe jurors' ability to listen to the evidence with an open mind and follow the law.
  • If the trial is proceeding without the complainant, jurors should be questioned about how that may affect their view of the case.

Module VIII → Key Points: Jury Selection
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