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Voir Dire: Effective Voir Dire

Introduction

Before you can begin to have an effective voir dire, you must first decide what kind of jury you want.  You must consider more than just age, race, and gender.  You must also consider what life experiences you want your jury to have had.  An article written by Lisa Blue, Robert Hirschhorn, and Macy Jaggers is an excellent guide for the voir dire process.

The article first talks about how to come to the conclusion of who is the perfect juror for your case.  This is done by creating a profile and by looking for clues in the questionnaire.  Next, the article talks about getting the jurors talking.  This is an extremely important part of any voir dire process because the more the jurors talk, the more you can learn about them. The article talks about psychological techniques, questioning techniques, and communication techniques.  The final section talks about keeping your perfect jurors.

This article is an excellent starting place  to being thinking about your voir dire.  This section contains other articles that will help you prepare to have an effective voir dire.

Online Article Materials

There are some excellent written materials on the voir dire process.  Contained within this section are a few of the written resources that I recommend.  

North Carolina Defender Trial School

This article focuses on looking for a different, more effective way of choosing a jury.  Especially helpful in this article is sample questions that focuses on important subjects (race, alcoholism, self-defense, jumping to conclusions, etc.).  Further, at the end of the article, there is a great section that talks about how to follow up with a potential juror when he or she shows bias.

Effective Defense Voir Dire

This article focuses on conducting an effective voir dire from the defense's perspective.  It deals specifically with issues with media exposure, stereotypes, jury research, jury questionnaires, and courtroom communication. Thus this article is helpful not only for communicating with the jury, but also with the judge and opposing party.

The Jury Expert: Strategies for More Effective Voir Dire

This article focuses on the fact that all jurors have individual biases and prejudices.  It continues to talk about how attorneys can learn about these biases and prejudices and how to use them to the attorney's advantage.

Print Materials

 

Blue's Guide to Jury Selection: How to Conduct a Meaningful and Effective 30–Minute Voir Dire (Westlaw password required for this link)

This Appendix goes into great detail in how to conduct an effective voir dire within 30 minutes.  While the law is based on Texas voir dire law, the text contains various amazing tips that will help any practitioner conduct an effective voir dire.  The appendix can be found on westlaw at 2 Blue's Guide to Jury Selection Appendix G-1 (West & ATLA 2004).

Jury Selection and Voir Dire in Criminal Cases  (Westlaw password required for this link)

This American Jurisprudence article examines jury selection and voir dire for a criminal case.  It is an excellent resource for basic law on the legal background of voir dire, scope of questioning, challenges, and illustrative voir dire for criminal cases. American Jurisprudence is available in print, or on westlaw.

Objections During Jury Selection

The Pepperdine Law Review compiled an amazing handbook for objections that should be made during various stages of a criminal and civil trial.  There is a section on Objections during Jury Selection.  This section includes objections for misstating the law, questions that may embarrass the veniremen, hypothetical questions.  The section also includes guidance on having a venireman excused for cause, when a venireman has conflicting answers, using peremptory challenges, and final objections to the composition of the jury. It can be found at the link above, or in print.

Missouri Practice Series

The Missouri Practice Series contains an incredible amount of compilations on the voir dire process and law in Missouri.  It is the first source that should be used for Missouri law.  Spefically, § 19:2. Purpose of voir dire, § 19:4. Use of questionnaires, and § 10.5. Voir dire are excellent beginning resources.  Also contained within the Missouri Practice materials are specific topics, like dealth qualification and individual voir dires.  These resources are available for purchase in print and exclusively on Westlaw.

Online Blogs

The Florida Jury Selection BlogThis blog is designed for trial attorneys, who have spent their careers in the courtroom seeking victory and justice for their clients. We know that jury selection is a critically important process and that it can be maddeningly difficult. We walk a tight-rope over a mine-field trying to find jurors who can be truly open-minded; people who will open up their hearts and minds to hear our client’s case. And we know from experience that in order for true justice to prevail, the jury that decides the case must be nothing less than “omni exceptione majores” – above all challenge. - See more at: http://www.juryblog.com/why-this-blog/#sthash.6dZtCxF2.dpuf