Voire Dire

The first part of a jury trial often gets glossed over in the movies and on TV: picking the jury. The legal system wants jurors who will hear the facts and come to a decision without any biases or preconceived notions. Getting those jurors takes some work.

Therefore, jurors go through a process called Voir Dire. This is just another way to say Jury Selection. First, the judge will introduce the parties, the lawyers, witnesses, and anyone else involved in the trial, and it will ask the potential jurors if they know any of these people. Obviously, if a potential juror is related to the Plaintiff or Defendant, he or she cannot be impartial.

After that, there are various obvious conflicts that are dealt with. That varies from jurors who would have issues serving because of childcare to someone who has a conflict because they are in a similar situation.

Finally, lawyers may ask questions directly to the potential jurors to gauge if there are any issues that aren’t obvious. This can be done individually, or the lawyer can ask questions of the potential jurors as a whole. The point of this process is make sure all the jurors can keep an open mind and make a decision based on the facts, as not every person is a good fit for every type of case. The lawyers ask for the opinions of the jurors on various topics, and then talk with the judge to ensure that the jury is fair for both parties.

Whether you’re a party to a lawsuit or getting ready for jury duty, Voir Dire (or jury selection) is going to be one of the first things that happens at trial. It will lay the foundation for everything that happens at trial from that moment forward.

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