Professor Youngjae Lee shared his expert opinion with Slate in an article examining whether or not a celebrity’s influence should exclude them from sitting on a jury.
The trial of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was already set to be one of the most celebrity-stuffed criminal proceedings in recent memory before Gigi Hadid got involved. On Monday, the supermodel appeared at the New York State Supreme Court to join more than 100 people summoned as potential jurors who will decide whether Weinstein is guilty of sexual assault. As part of the initial screening process, a judge asked Hadid if she felt she could be fair and impartial. She replied that she has met Weinstein and one of his accusers, Salma Hayek. But, she said, she felt she was “still able to keep an open mind on the facts.”
Is there any reason celebrities can’t serve on juries?
Not inherently. “The basic idea is that they’re like everybody else, and the only question is if they can be an impartial juror,” Youngjae Lee, a criminal law professor at Fordham University School of Law, explained. There’s two standard ways to kick someone out of a jury pool: citing a “for cause” reason and using a “peremptory strike.” The “for cause” eliminations are required to cite a specified reason, such as being related to the defendant or having already formed a position on the case, that would make that potential juror incapable of being impartial. Fame alone isn’t a valid reason to get you out of jury duty.
Things get more complicated with the round of strategic decisions from lawyers. Each side gets its own number of strikes it can make, and it’s very possible a lawyer could use one of those strikes on an A-lister.