Choosing the right jury when conducting voir dire can be critical to winning your case, and yet many attorneys don’t give it nearly enough thought and effort. Consider the following practical suggestions for picking the perfect jury:
- Prepare, prepare, prepare! Before voir dire examination, think about what types of jurors you do and do not want; plan and outline the questions with care; consider moving in limine to limit areas that the adverse party may ask about during voir dire and trial; and prepare your client for juror examination, i.e., the client should be well dressed for a person of his or her occupation and background and should not visibly react to any questions or answers.
- Stand up and be personable! Present yourself to the jury by standing when prospective jurors enter the jury room and when conducting the examination. Immediately introduce yourself and your client, speak loud and clear, and be courteous, fair, and sincere at all times.
- Be a good conversationalist! When questioning the jurors, ask open-ended questions that will give prospective jurors an opportunity to express themselves, actively listen to the answers, and ask appropriate follow-up questions. Consider having the judge ask sensitive questions of the prospective jurors in private.
For more on conducting effective voir dire, see CEB’s California Trial Practice: Civil Procedure During Trial §8.46. Also check out CEB’s program Effective Jury Voir Dire: Picking the Right Jury, available On Demand, and attorney Tim Hallahan‘s guest blog post on what he learned from jury duty about voir dire.
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