Voir Dire: The Importance of Jury Selection

Judith Boza - Teen Aspect - September 5th, 2022
(Shapiro, n.d.)
 

French for “Speak the Truth,” voir dire is a jury selection process in which prospective jurors are questioned by attorneys, judges, or both to determine whether they are qualified to serve on the jury panel in a particular trial. The preliminary interrogation of witnesses to ascertain their qualification to testify in a trial is referred to as "voir dire." Voir dire can refer to any hearing that occurs during a trial but away from the jury. One of the most significant civil obligations that American citizens have is jury duty. Lawyers and judges must ensure that jury members can be impartial due to the tremendous honor jurors serve for a fair trial. Jurors can anticipate being questioned extensively by the court and the attorneys for both parties throughout the voir dire procedure. With the help of these inquiries, the court hopes to identify any biases that the prospective jurors could possess. In order to ensure that potential jurors are qualified to serve, the presiding judge also asks them the usual questions, such as verifying their citizenship and whether any obstacles would prohibit them from doing so. Any juror who does not appear to be able to provide a fair and unbiased verdict may be removed, at the request of the attorneys for both sides, following the conclusion of questioning. The number of "strikes for reason" that attorneys can ask for and obtain from the trial court judge.


When questioning potential jurors, the parties, or their attorneys, have four goals in mind: educate jurors on important trial concepts, obtain information from each juror, develop a connection with each juror, and sway jurors to consider the case from their point of view. There are a number of questions that are frequently used to assess a juror's competence for any particular case, but each attorney is free to ask prospective jurors a range of voir dire questions (i). Common voir dire inquiries include the following:

  • Which kind of work do you do?

  • You will be judging another person if you sit on a jury. Are you comfortable carrying that out?

  • Would you feel at ease having you as one of the jurors in this case if you were my client?

  • Is there anything about your own life that brings this case to mind? What is it if so?

  • Had you heard anything about this case before coming in today?

  • You will be required to take an oath to follow all applicable laws and to examine only the evidence presented at trial if you are selected to serve as a jury in this case. Will this be possible for you?

References

(i) Team, C. (2015, November 3). Voir Dire - Definition, Examples, Processes. Legal Dictionary. https://legaldictionary.net/voir-dire/

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