VOIR DIRE IN EMPLOYEE SUIT vs CORPORATE EMPLOYER

VOIR DIRE IN EMPLOYEE SUIT vs CORPORATE EMPLOYER

The following is an example of a procedure I followed in preparing for jury selection in a trial. The first step was to determine the major and minor issues in the case. That includes both positive and negative issues. Those subjects, issues or facts which will either help or hurt the case in a significant way. They were usually determined through focus studies in which people identified what they liked or didn’t like about the case. It also involved a search of the discovery for issues. Every case had to also be reviewed for legal issues that might rest upon facts and create questions in that regard. When this information was accumulated, the next step was to organize it in a general outline form. At this stage the outline was a collection of issues. We also at this point organized the issues in order of importance as we understood them. Since time was limited it was likely that we were not going to be able to cover all of the issues and therefore had to decide which ones were most important to be sure to cover.

We were not concerned about framing the issues at this point. The collection and organization was the primary goal. The next step would be to decide how to word the questions. How to frame the questions in a way that was most helpful. This required a lot of thought and usually consulting with people who had experience in this area. Once this was done the ultimate goal was to try to reduce the subjects to a one-page summary sheet that one could have in front of them while questioning witnesses. That requires preparation and knowing the topics and areas to be discussed.

This case involved a man who was employed as an equipment operator. His employer was hired by the Ash cement company in Seattle. They had a very large pile of dry cement they needed to be moved by equipment into a conveyor belt. The client was the operator of the equipment who would scoop up the cement. While doing so the pile suddenly collapsed covering him with the dry cement. After a frantic effort he was rescued but nearly suffocated. He suffered mental and physical injuries as a result. The cement company had hired his employer because they had realized the danger of the work. The case was settled before the trial began.

This was a preliminary draft which would undergo many revisions to arrive at what was used at trial. The importance was a master draft to work from in creating a shorter, more refined final draft.

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INTRODUCE CLIENT & ATTORNEYS

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1.The doctors feel john shouldn’t be in court here very often because of his mental situation. We intend to follow the doctor’s advice.

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                             (1)          how would you feel if John isn’t here every day?

(2)are you all comfortable with that? hands

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PRELIMINARY

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1.Waited long time for this trial but I have a concern about doing a good job for my clients. 

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any of you share a similar concern about being a juror in this case? 

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2.I’m uncomfortable when I’m being questioned. Do any of you feel uncomfortable about the fact that way too?

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May I have your permission to ask you some questions about being a juror?

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3.Let me start with lawyers & lawsuits.

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(1)I’ll go first and tell you I think there are lawyers who are deceptive & manipulate the truth. Do any of you feel the same way?

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(2)I’m wondering if you can make room for the possibility there are some trustworthy and truthful lawyers? (hands) How about people with opposite feelings?

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(3)You don’t know me, but will you give me a chance to show you that I am a trustworthy & truthful lawyer? Those who have a problem doing that.

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(1)I’m not going to ask you about frivolous lawsuits and greedy lawyers even we know they exist. But, let me ask if you can accept that there are valid lawsuits by deserving people for damages due to wrongful conduct by others?

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(2)Are you all willing to allow me to prove to you that this is one of those valid lawsuits by deserving people who are entitled to damages because of wrongful conduct by this corporation?

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CORPORATIONS

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1.My experience has been there are a lot of good employers and corporations who are concerned with their employee’s safety. How many of you have that view? Any who have a different view?

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2.How important is it for employers and corporations to provide a safe place to work? Why?

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3.Do you think there are employers and corporations who are concerned enough about providing a safe place to work?

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4.If a company has learned of a serious safety hazard do you think they must warn workers who might be hurt from? How important is that in your mind?

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5.Is it ever OK for a company not to warn about a serious safety hazard because they needed to get a job done? Why?

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6.If a company decides to adopt as safety rule because they have learned of a serious safety hazard do you think they must tell the employees, the reason it was adopted? Why?

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7.In this case we will offer proof this corporation learned of a serious hazard that caused John his injuries but didn’t tell him about the hazard because they needed to get the work done as soon as possible. How many of you will give us permission to prove that to you? How many have difficulty accepting a claim like that against a corporate employer?

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8.Is there anyone who can’t make room for the possibility a corporate employer might actually withhold safety information they knew about because wanted to cut corners and get the job done fast?

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                       BETRAYAL

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1.As an employee would you expect your employer to warn you about serious safety issues they learned about? How would you feel if they concealed it?

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2.How would you feel if it was concealed from you and you were injured as a result?

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3.Do we agree there is a difference between a making a mistake and deliberately cutting safety corners just to get a job done, don’t we?

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                         IMPORTANT CASE

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1.You will learn this was on the TV & the news when it happened. It’s likely this trial will be covered by the media. Would that effect how you feel about being a possible juror in this case?

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2.Do any of you have any reluctance or concern about selected as a juror on an important case like this one?

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3.National Public Radio had a program about the fact trials in china are behind locked doors. public and media are not allowed. Do you have any disagreement with the fact, in America, trials are open to the public to attend?

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                         SPECIAL KNOWLEDGE

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1.Is there any experience in your life that would make you especially qualified to sit on this case what would that be?

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                           SIMILAR EXPERIENCES

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1.This case involves near suffocation while operating equipment moving dry cement. Hass anyone had any  similar experience with dry cement.

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2.Has anyone had special knowledge about the toxic nature of dry cement?

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3.Has anyone had experience operating front loader or heavy equipment?

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                        PSYCHOLOGICAL

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1.What would you tell me if I were to ask you what is the most important thing you can teach a child?

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2.What do you enjoy doing most in your spare time? What makes your life enjoyable?

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3.What makes you good at what you do either at work or as a parent or at anything else you do?

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4.Where do you primarily get the news?

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                        PREPONDERANCE

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1.As a juror you are legally required to obey the law the judge will give you. The proof must be more probably true than not true. Is there anyone who would not follow the law whether you agreed with it or not?

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2. We intend to present strong proof about the betrayal of trust by this defendant and our right to full damages. Is there anyone who would be at all reluctant to apply the test of whether our evidence is more probably true than not true?

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                     LABOR & INDUSTRIES

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1.John was covered by labor & industries. The judge will be instructing you about this and the fact John has to repay labor & industries from any verdict you might find for him. Would anyone be reluctant to vote for a verdict for John in spite of what the judge says is the law?

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                     INJURIES

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1.Has anyone here had a truly frightening near death experience?

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2.I’m wondering if you think people can suffer deep, long lasting emotional harm from a terrifying near-death experience? Do you?

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3.John has been diagnosed with for post traumatic disorder. john has been diagnosed with this condition and it is really a serious problem for him. Have you heard of it?
 
4.What facts would you want to see or hear in order to feel comfortable determining damages for this kind of injury?

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                       DAMAGES & DEFENSES

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1.The defense says John has failed to take action to help himself, because he has not returned to work and has not worked hard enough at a rehab program. How many of you are willing to wait until you hear the facts before judging him?

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2.John doesn’t look hurt when you see him. You are likely to say “gee he doesn’t look all that hurt” I know because that was my first impression when I met him. Have you ever known someone who looked ok on the outside but had serious mental or medical problems?

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5.The corporation claims in this case John is at fault himself for not figuring out the danger from the work he had been assigned. Will you consider who was in the best position to know about the hazard – John or the corporation?

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             SURVIELANCE

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1.The lawyers for the corporation being sued hired someone to secretly spy on John over a period of weeks. He was followed and videotaped doing things riding bike, driving , mowing the lawn and around the house with his family. Will you agree to listen to the medical evidence about these activities and his injuries before making up your mind?

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                                SYMPATHY

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1.We are human and are sympathetic by nature. As this family’s attorney it’s hard not to feel a great deal of sympathy for them, but sympathy must not be part of your decision. I’m the first to tell you that. We you consider whether we prove our case to you without resorting to sympathy?

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                      DAMAGES

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1.Under the constitution and our law justice for a wrong is only measured by money. Is there anyone unwilling to give justice in the form of money?

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2.In a case like this there are two kinds of verdict damages I’d like to ask you about, what the law calls economic damages and non-economic damages. The economic damages are the bills and costs from the injury. Is there anyone who would be reluctant to consider a verdict for the reasonable past and future bills and expenses?

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3.The non-economic damages are an amount in dollars equal to the harm for disability, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life. Is there anyone reluctant to consider this in arriving at a verdict?

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4.Our proof will be the past and future economic damages for the bills and costs total $_______. Are you willing to determine if that is a reasonable amount in considering your verdict?

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5.At the end of the case we will give you a way to decide the non-economic damages in this case. Would you have any reluctance to exercise your power as a juror in deciding how much that should be?

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6.Suppose at the end of this case, after you have heard all the case and the law from the judge, , you feel a fair and reasonable verdict in this case is $__________. If that was your honest appraisal would you be willing to exercise your power as a juror and sign that verdict?

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7.What would be your biggest concern if you agreed to that verdict? Why?

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                  CONCLUSION

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1.How do you feel about taking on the job of being a juror in this case?

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2.What else would you like to know about this case if you were a juror here?

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3.Given what you know about your self is there anything you can think of that would make it even a little bit difficult to be a juror in this case?

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4.is everyone willing to serve as a juror in this case?

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5.Thank you. Let me tell you being a juror in this case will be a marvelous experience and you will walk out of here a better person because you will have learned a lot and been involved in a very important case.

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