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5 Things to Do to Prepare for Voir Dire

78724287When next faced with preparing for jury voir dire examination before trial, consider these five practical suggestions.

  1. Determine the types of jurors that you do and don’t want. Rather than selecting jurors through stereotypes (e.g., young, female, black, single), decide which attitudes and experiences you want jurors to either have or not have.
  2. Plan the questions with care and prepare a written outline of these questions. Aimless and repetitive use of stock questions may cause resentment or boredom in prospective jurors. Because two cases are rarely alike, your questions should reflect the facts, theories, and approaches of the particular case.
  3. Find out the judge’s attitude toward voir dire. If you know the judge’s identity before trial, find out whether the judge is likely to permit the types of questions you want to ask. Ask the court clerk and attorneys who’ve tried cases before the judge for such information. Local court rules may also be helpful in this regard.
  4. Gather information on prospective jurors, if possible. Use jury commissioner’s lists, jury books, and other services.
  5. Consider moving in limine to limit areas that the adverse party may inquire about during voir dire examination and trial. For example, in an automobile accident case, exclude other accidents that the defendant has been involved in. If you believe that a client’s felony conviction won’t be admissible, consider moving in limine during the pre voir dire conference to preclude the adverse parties from mentioning or referring to the client’s conviction during voir dire examination and trial.

For much more on jury selection, turn to CEB’s California Trial Practice: Civil Procedure During Trial, chap 8.

Other CEBblog™ posts on voir dire:

© The Regents of the University of California, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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