The challenge of jury selection

The most frequent thing I am asked about deals with jury selection. For many lawyers this represents the most difficult part of the trial. I prepared some information about jury selection for a case going out and thought I’d repeat some very basic thoughts about the subject.

SUBJECTS TO COVER ON VOIR DIRE

What are the things you should talk about in jury selection? Here is the outline I follow:

  • Discuss the key points in your case. Arrange issues by priority of importance. Cover only the most important issues.
  • Search for juror strongly held values, opinions and beliefs
  • Search for any significant life experiences that could impact case
  • Ask general significant demographic questions, but don’t waste your time here

POINTS TO COVER ON VOIR DIRE

What are some priority subjects you should cover in every civil personal injury case. Here’s my personal list of them:

  •  Preponderance only means more probably true then not (see David Ball)
  • We are not after sympathy, but need to show facts to evaluate
  • Must follow law agree or not
  • Community interest in case
  • Damage issues

DISCUSSION PHRASES

There are some helpful ways to get the discussion going among the jury. Some involve phrases. Discussion phrases include the following: (See David Ball for more information)

  • There are two areas I’d like to discuss with you: (1) your important life experiences that might help you decide this case and (2) your opinions about issues in the case
  • Some people believe….(all doctors are right all the time) while others believe…..(doctors are human and can make mistakes)….Which way do you lean if only a little?
  • Tell us more about that

Try to use"looping questions" – when you get an answer from a juror use that answer in the question to another juror:

  • Mrs Smith says there are too many lawsuits against doctors,what do you think?
  • How do you feel about what juror Smith just said that it is important to pass knowledge on?
  • Let me tell you why I am very glad you said what you did: It takes courage to say that in front of people. Who else on the jury feels the same way?
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