Voir Dire

What does Voir Dire mean?

During voir dire the court and each attorney has the opportunity to question each potential juror through written or oral questions. After the questioning the attorneys can dismiss certain jurors if they determine the juror is not suited to serve, cannot be unbiased, or knows too much about the case.

The goal of the voir dire is to choose fourteen impartial individuals, which include 12 jurors and two alternates, who can hear the evidence of the case and make an educated verdict. Each attorney uses voir dire to seat the best possible jury for their client.

Why is Voir Dire important?

According to Jeffrey T. Frederick in an article published in Law Trends and News, voir dire is used to accomplish four major goals:

  • Elicit information from jurors
  • Develop rapport with jurors
  • Educate the jurors on key concepts
  • Persuade jurors to view the case from their perspective

To accomplish the first goal the questioning lawyer can ask questions which allow the potential jurist to answer questions about themselves. This is best done with open-ended questions which avoid yes or no answers.

Experts also warn against using demographic information to make judgments. It is best to elicit their opinions on a variety of topics. Listen closely and pay attention to their body language. Questionnaires may also be helpful to gather additional information.

Next, attempt to develop a strong relationship with the jurors to elicit more honest answers to your questions. Find ways to make the jurors feel comfortable and develop good questions. Attitude is important. Respect each juror and eliminate any hint of judgment from your interactions.

Voir dire can also be used to provide information to the jurors about issues which are important to the case. Make sure there are no misconceptions about the law or the judicial process. Eliminating misinformation may be critical to helping jurist avoid erroneous conclusions.

Finally, use voir dire to set the tone for the case and to win the language war. Words can form impressions in the mind of the jurists and help them view certain events in a particular way. Words can even be used to influence the standards the jurors apply in a given case.

 

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