Voir Dire

Synonyms

A preliminary examination of a witness or a juror by a judge or counsel.

Voir Dire

Quick Definition: A preliminary examination of a witness or a juror by a judge or counsel.

Voir dire is French for “to speak the truth.”

Voir Dire is useful in offering the judge and attorneys an opportunity to speak with potential jurors and tp determine where they are suitable for jury service.  For example, someone who has recently been the victim of burglary may not be suitable to hear a criminal trial of defendant accused of theft.

Why is Voir Dire Used?

Voir Dire can be useful to highlight jurors preconceptions that could help or hurt their view of your case.  These can range from beliefs about low speed “whiplash” crashes, conservative venues, racial bias, pre-existing conditions and resistance to significant pain and suffering awards.  It is also the future jurors’ first time hearing the facts of your case, meeting the attorneys involved and getting a basic understanding of the litigation process.

What Are The Goals of Voir Dire?

There are a variety of goals and the specific goals will deal a lot with your specific case however all voir dire goals include:

  • Learning as much information as possible about the individual perspective jurors have and their abilities to be fair-minded and impartial;
  • Familiarizing the juror with the facts of the case;
  • Presenting the theory of the case;
  • Determining each potential jurors ability to apply the law as instructed;
  • Offer the Court and attorneys an opportunity to develop a rapport;
  • Have the jurors warm up to the litigation process;

How Does The Voir Dire Process Work?

Voir Dire can very from courtroom to courtroom however typically the process is as follows:

The Judge will first introduce the case and the lawyers, and likely thank the potential jurors for appearing for jury duty.  Next, the lawyers will ask you questions to reveal any potential biases.  Typically, the lawyer for the plaintiff will speak with the jury panel first, then the lawyer for the defendant will speak to the jury duty panel.  If a bias is present or something your history reveals a prejudice you will be challenged and likely excused from jury duty.

How are jurors picked?

Each attorney is permitted to strike jurors.  The jurors are either struck for cause or for no reason at all.  The attorneys are allowed to strike as many as necessary for cause and are permitted 3 strikes in federal court and six strikes in State Court.

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