Jurors Selected in Jennifer Hudson's Family Murder Trial - The Chicago Criminal Law Blog

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Jurors Selected in Jennifer Hudson's Family Murder Trial

Fourteen jurors were selected on Monday, out of the 24 questioned, to hear the case of William Balfour, a man accused of murdering three members of actress and singer Jennifer Hudson’s family in 2008. The prospective jurors were questioned for nearly four hours on Monday morning, the Chicago Tribune reports.

William Balfour, the estranged husband of Hudson’s sister Julia, is accused of fatally shooting Hudson’s mother and brother in their Englewood home, before kidnapping and killing Hudson’s 7-year-old nephew. Balfour was arrested and charged with the murders in December 2008.

Last week, the potential jurors were given an extensive questionnaire, designed to help weed out jurors who the parties felt may be biased or unreceptive to their arguments. In addition to questions about the potential jurors’ views on guns and illicit drugs, many of the questions dealt with whether prospective jurors were fans of Hudson or aware of her career.

On Monday, the potential jurors discussed their answers with both Cook County Judge Charles Burns and the attorneys for both sides. Jurors were then eliminated based on their biases or, in the majority of situations, the financial hardships they would suffer during the likely month-long trial.

In a jury trial, the court initially chooses prospective jurors randomly from a pool. A small group of prospective jurors, 24 in this case, are then brought into the courtroom for questioning.

During this process of questioning, or “Voir Dire” as it’s known in legalese, both the judge and attorneys question the prospective jurors about their backgrounds, beliefs, and biases, in order to determine whether the individual is capable of serving as a fair arbiter in a case. The lawyers can then request that prospective jurors be dismissed based on their experiences, prejudices, or for any other reason under a preemptory challenge.

Jury selection for the trial will continue during the week until a panel of 12 jurors and 6 alternates is chosen. The trial of William Balfour, the alleged killer of Jennifer Hudson’s family members, is set to commence on April 23.

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