Most veteran trial attorneys will agree that while a case is not always won on jury selection, it can easily be lost there. It is one of the three most critical junctures of any trial (the other two being the opening statement and the cross-examination of the first witness), however, voir dire is generally relegated to the proverbial background, only to be addressed in the last few days. . – or even hours – just before the trial begins.
IF YOU HAVE WAITED UNTIL THE WEEKEND BEFORE THE TEST TO PLAN YOUR VOIR DIRECTION, YOU HAVE WAITED TOO LONG
Building your jury selection strategy should begin weeks before your case goes to trial, after you’ve done your pretrial investigation (you’ve done a pretrial investigation, haven’t you?) And you’re starting to Prepare your boss case seriously. If you wait until the Saturday or Sunday before your trial, jot down a few questions in a notebook, and then appear in court on Monday and conduct your voir dire, without the benefit of research or trial-based profiling, it is It is very possible that you are missing out on the opportunity to educate your jurors and eliminate those most dangerous to you.
THE PURPOSE OF VOIR DIRE IS NOT TO DETERMINE WHETHER THE JURIES CAN BE FAIR AND FAIR!
Sorry, but there is no impartial jury. Each person who comes to the courtroom (jury, lawyer, judge, clerk, stenographer, bailiff) brings two things:
1. Life experiences.
2. The attitudes that are the result of those life experiences.
So the purpose of your questioning is to uncover those attitudes and experiences, get jurors talking about them, and then send home the people who have attitudes that are hostile to your case and / or your client.
The key purposes of Voir Dire
o Find and remove jurors who will be detrimental to your case.
o Present the issues of your case to the members of the jury.
o Find out who your jurors are and what they have to say about the issues, so you have a better idea of how to communicate with them during your case.
Your goals in Voir Dire
o Get them talking!
o Get them talking about your topics.
o Get them discussed by the jury, if they are hostile to your case.
IF YOU ONLY REMEMBER ONE THING ABOUT THIS ARTICLE, THIS IS
Are you going to trial without practicing your opening statement? So why not take the time to rehearse the trial portion when you speak to the jurors first? If you don’t practice your voir dire, why not? If you do, do you practice with people in the room? If you practice with people in the room, are they laymen? If it is lay people in the room, do you ask their opinion? If you ask them for comments, do you apply them to the selection of your jury that goes to trial?
The bottom line is that your voir dire, not your opening statement, is when you make your first impression on the jurors. Make the most of the opportunity. Practice, refine your voir dire.