What is a "death-qualified" juror or jury?
In capital cases, jurors are specifically screened during jury selection to eliminate from the jury anyone who would under no circumstances either (a) consider a penalty of death or (b) consider a penalty of life without parole (LWOP).
In practice, virtually no prospective jurors overtly refuse to consider the more lenient and less permanent sentence of life imprisonment with no possibility of parole. On the other hand, many people openly oppose the permanent penalty of putting another human being to death.
Such screening heavily skews the composition of the jury by removing far more potential jurors who oppose the death penalty. It is no wonder, then, that these juries are known as “death-qualified”.
That they are not referred to as “LWOP-qualified” juries is telling. In reality, they have specifically been selected to ensure that all jurors would be willing to impose a death sentence under certain conditions.
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