Sep 06, 2019 Voir dire jury selection ideas by Fairfax criminal lawyer
Voir dire conducted by attorneys is a critical defense tool, underlines Fairfax criminal lawyer
Voir dire — French for “to speak the truth” — is the phase for Virginia lawyers to ask questions of the potential jurors / venire members, to assist in seeking to strike potential jurors for cause, seeking to rehabilitate them from being stricken for cause, and striking jurors as of right through peremptory challenges. As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I know that collateral benefits of lawyer-directed voir dire include introducing the jury to the defense’s theories and themes, humanizing the criminal defendant and lawyer to the jury, engaging jurors and better understanding what makes them tick, developing trust and a rapport with the jurors, and positively influencing group dynamics among the resulting jury members.
Handling difficult venire members’ questions during voir dire as gifts rather than as annoyances
Plenty of potential jurors walk into the courthouse with preconceived notions about the criminal justice system, the defendant, and procedures. The criminal defense lawyer has a choice during voir dire to be freaked out over juror selection and any other aspects of professional and personal life; or to else to welcome the gold presented in each such encounter, and to work to diffuse, turn around, own, and transcend any tough situations. When a juror states a challenging opinion, that juror has provided the gift of his or her honesty to address.
Juror challenges cannot be swept under the carpet
When a potential juror says something during voir dire that might be prejudicial to the defendant, the initial response of a criminal defense lawyer might be concern not to have that juror’s views poison the rest of the jury panel. However, most people do not quickly change their deep-seated opinions, and a difficult potential juror’s answer can become an opportunity to explore that juror’s views further with that juror and / or with the rest of the potential jurors. By doing so, the criminal defense lawyer at once opens his or her mind and self to understanding the potential challenges in dealing with jurors in the particular case, and also might gain some additional persuasion and credibility with the jurors for neither hiding nor resisting challenges, but meeting them head on openly. Certainly, a criminal defense lawyer wants jurors to do the same as they deliberate.
Jurors come as a pack
When a potential juror receives a jury duty notice in the mail, his or her reaction might be a combination of being resigned to this as his or her civic duty (which is a mind reaction, when the gut might not be as pleased), glee that this might have all the excitement of an O.J. Simpson trial, and concern about how this might impact the potential juror’s work and personal obligations. The jury panel has all this in common, so they come into the courtroom as a pack, wanting each member of their pack to be treated respectfully and with understanding by the lawyers during voir dire and all remaining stages of the trial.
Fairfax criminal lawyer Jonathan L. Katz pursues your best defense against felony, misdemeanor, and DUI prosecutions. For a free in-person consultation with Jon Katz about your criminal case pending in court, please call his staff at 703-383-1100 to meet with Jon.