September 29, 2020 Articles

To Preside or Not to Preside: Questions and Concerns on the Varying Practices of Judicial Participation in Jury Selection

Some themes have emerged, with certain civil courts allowing voir dire out of the presence of a judge but most criminal courts mandating a judge’s presence.

By Matthew N. Korenoski
Approaches to the supervision of voir dire vary among the courts, which raises questions about judge supervision over jury selection.

Approaches to the supervision of voir dire vary among the courts, which raises questions about judge supervision over jury selection.

Just as attorneys evaluate prospective jurors during voir dire, judges do too—if they preside during jury selection. Some judges not only preside but also ask questions themselves, limit the extent of attorneys’ questions, and observe how prospective jurors answer questions. When present, judges can hear parties’ challenges for cause immediately after witnessing firsthand prospective jurors’ answers.

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