August 27, 2015 Articles

Pick Me! Techniques to Uncover Juror Bias During Voir Dire

By Amy M. Stewart

The makeup of the jury panel may be as important as the facts and the law in your case. Because the appellate court defers to the jury’s right to weigh the evidence, identify facts, and decide which witnesses to believe, the individuals selected to serve on the jury can have an enormous impact on the outcome of your case and any subsequent appeals. Yet, after months, if not years, of developing your case, you may have only a few hours, if you are lucky, to select the jury who will decide your client’s fate.

Voir dire is a French phrase sometimes translated as “to speak the truth.” As a trial attorney, your goal during voir dire is not to determine if the jury will rule in your client’s favor or if they like you better than opposing counsel. Instead, your mission is to create an environment wherein jurors feel comfortable speaking the truth about their biases in favor of your opponent’s case so you can decide if you should use a strike to deselect a juror. This article provides practical tips for preparing for voir dire, enhancing your credibility with jurors, determining bias, and developing your personal voir dire style.

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