Voir Dire; Juror List

AuthorLeonard H. Bucklin
19. Voir Dire; Juror List
This section is the place for:
1. The attorney’s notes on the type of jurors to have or not have on the
jury, and the questions he wants to ask the jurors on voir dire.
2. A juror voir dire form, in as many copies as you will use during voir dire.
3. When available, the jury panel list of the people to be voir dired.
4. After the jury panel list has been obtained, information you have gath-
ered on individual potential jurors.
5. A three-minute summary of the case you can present to the voir dire
panel to quickly explain what the case is about.
As the case progresses, you need to think about the theme you ultimately will be pre-
senting to the jury, and the type of juror you want to have. Jot down these thoughts.
You will also be thinking of questions to be asked on voir dire. Write them down. This
section of the trial notebook will draw into one place these random notes you make
from time to time.
Each judge or court has their own procedure for when and how you can obtain from
the clerk of court a list of the entire juror panel from which your jury is to be drawn.
Place this juror panel list in this section.
§19.1 Using the Voir Dire Form
If possible, have an assistant or emotionally calm client sit next to you during voir
dire and make notes about the prospective jurors as you ask questions. If you have to
stop to write a note about the juror’s response before you ask the next question, jurors
will note that you hated an answer and perhaps adjust their future responses.
Most of the time you will not have a trained assistant available to take helpful notes
during voir dire. Moreover, even the best-trained observers will miss important juror
reactions. To solve these problems, we include a juror voir dire form containing key
items ready to be checkmarked. Thus, while you are talking you may jot down a couple
of words or checkmark an item about each prospective juror.
Our form has six columns because many judges seat two rows of six potential jurors in
each row. If your county has a different form or shape to the juror box, or uses court-
room benches for more than 12 persons to be questioned at one time, redesign the form
accordingly. For example, for judges who seat the panel in four rows of ten persons each,
redesign the form to have four rows of ten persons. You will need more than one sheet.
As each juror is called to the box, or otherwise identified in the courtroom, write the
juror’s last name at the top of the form’s row corresponding to the juror’s seat. Then it
will be easy to jot a few notes about each prospective juror. For example, if it is devel-
oped that the person is an executive who thinks corporations make no mistakes worthy
of suit, you can draw a circle around the plus or minus sign on “corporation” as a quick
indication to you what that juror is like. If a juror knows a witness, the name of the wit-
ness known can be jotted next to “witness” on the form’s box for that potential juror.
You are then reminded which potential juror works with witness Jones.
Our form includes the following nine items. Usually, you need to know this much
about a juror. The list can easily be modified.
Friendly to corporations.
Tort reform mentality makes him distrust any plaintiff.
Occupation bears upon the matter at hand.
Government employee or engaged in a medical occupation.
Knows an attorney, party, witness or the accident site.
He or his immediate family has been involved in a similar type of occurrence.
He or his immediate family has either sued someone or been sued.
He or his immediate family had the same sort of injury or damages.
(Most important.) The juror’s personality is such that you consider it a “plus”
or a “minus” in your personal relationship to that juror during the course of
the trial.
§19.2 Summary of the Case
At the start of voir dire, many judges ask the attorneys to each give a short descrip-
tion of what the case is about. Do not waste this opportunity. Be ready with a three-
minute speech giving a story of the case.
The old Perry Mason detective story titles had it right. The titles were “The case of
....,” such as “The case of the sixty orange signs” or “The case of the man who did not
show a light.” You need to tell the jury in your first sentence at least one factual item
you want them to key on. “This is an automobile accident case” will not grab a juror’s
interest. Be specific. “This is a case of a driver who drove too fast.” Or “this is a case of a
handshake that everyone thought was a contract.” For goodness sake, do not just say,
“This is a medical malpractice case” if instead you can say, “This is a case of a doctor
who did not take time to read the pathologist’s clear report of cancer, and John Smith is
now dead.” Or if you are representing a defendant, say: “This is a case of hidden cancer,
that even the best doctors, like Dr. Kirmis, have to work against.” In the voir dire, give
the prospective jurors a short skeleton of the fact story. Do not simply list legal issues.
Make your case summary a compelling three-minute description that you can use to
great benefit when the judge asks, “Counselor, describe the case briefly so the jurors
will know if they have a conflict with this type of case.”
§19.3 Instructions to Staff
This “Voir Dire; Juror List” section is the
place for:
1. The attorney’s notes on the type of jurors to have or not have on the jury, and the
questions he wants to ask the jurors on voir dire.
2. The juror voir dire form, in as many copies as you will use during voir dire.
3. The jury panel list, which is the list of people called to be on the jury panel to be
voir dired.
4. Information you have gathered on individual potential jurors.
5. The attorney’s three-minute summary of the case designed for use in voir dire.
INSERT FORM. For now, insert one FORM: VOIR DIRE DIAGRAM. Just before a
jury trial, the attorney will make extra copies or adjustments in the form.
The other side of this sheet is reserved for the attorney’s preliminary notes on pos-
sible case themes and voir dire questions.
Read this instruction sheet. Then place
this instruction sheet as the first item
behind the tab. Leave it there.

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