I was in front of a jury panel last week conducting voir dire in an attempt to select a fair and impartial jury. My client was accused of driving under the influence.
Voir Dire is a french phrase that, loosely translated, means to speak the truth. DUI attorneys and their district attorney counterparts attempt to find potential jurors who are not biased for or against either side. On this particular panel, one potential juror insisted that she could not sit in judgment of a DUI defendant unless she knew that some form of rehabilitative treatment were a part of a sentence. She could not convict if she knew that the government would only incarcerate the defendant.
She knew what others in Denver know - successful efforts to reduce DUI recidivism in Colorado and throughout the country must be focused not only on punishment but should also include a strong therapeutic component. This is not just the ranting of a 'liberal' DUI defense lawyer. This is based on scientific research
The trial judge instructed the potential juror that she could not consider a potential sentence in deciding guilt or innocence as punishment was the sole responsibility of the court, not the jury. Needless to say, the district attorney didn't like the notion of a juror considering a non-punitive sentence and struck her from the jury panel.