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Spotlight on Voir Dire

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Six More Tips on Voir Dire for Defense Counsel

Don't view the voir dire as, ''The Voir Dire Examination.''

You should view it as an ''interview.'' Your approach and demeanor will differ noticeably depending upon your orientation. If you fail to adopt an interview orientation, you will most likely respond with a cross-examination approach.

The importance of the first minute.

Often defense counsel must begin their voir dire without benefit of a break after plaintiff counsel finishes. Thus, all too often, the first minute of the defense voir dire consists of somewhat clumsy ''preparations.'' This usually involves dragging the podium out from the corner of the courtroom (if the plaintiff's attorney has not used one), fussing with papers and seating charts, all the while making apologies to the jury. This, unfortunately, becomes the jury's first impression of defense counsel. To avoid this, you should undertake better preparation before the jury is brought into the courtroom on the morning of the voir dire. You should make appropriate arrangements, such that when the Judge turns voir dire over to you, you can proceed deliberately to face the jury and begin your interview without interruption.

Plaintiff must carefully plan voir dire. The defense must plan to be flexible.

If the Judge has given plaintiff's counsel free reign during voir dire, you must respond to plaintiff's 'persuasive questions.' You cannot simply proceed sequentially through a list of prepared questions, ignoring the 'suggestions' that were imparted by plaintiff's counsel. In addition, throughout voir dire, you must repeatedly illustrate, ''the other side of the coin.'' You must 'teach' jurors from the very beginning (before plaintiff opening) to anticipate the defense position while listening to the plaintiff's assertions.

  1. 1. Spotlight on Voir Dire - Six More Tips on Voir Dire for Defense Counsel (1-3)
  2. 2. Spotlight on Voir Dire - Six More Tips on Voir Dire for Defense Counsel (4-6)
  3. 3. Susan E. Jones, Ph.D.