By Dr. Ken Manges PhD | Forensic Psychologist
Some key points to consider when preparing for the voir dire process:
Know the rules in your court regarding:
- The order in which the parties select the jury
- What constitutes a challenge for cause
- The number of preemptory challenges your client is allowed
- When challenges must be used during jury selection
- When your last chance to use preemptory challenges occur
- When and how to object to your opponent’s method of jury selection
Effective jury selection includes well-prepared pretrial motions.
- Motion to seek the maximum number of preemptory challenges the court will allow
- Motion to establish the rotation order by which you will examine prospective jurors
- Always ask for the right to examine the jury panel
- If possibly needed, include a request for an expanded voir dire examination of a critical issue
- Seek to limit voir dire discussion or potentially prejudicial matters that you do not want your opponent to mention
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Get information on prospective jurors and be familiar with the various techniques available to do so (Covington, 1985):
- Community attitudinal analysis – surveys used to collect information on attitudes about your client, issues, and damages, used to create an ideal juror profile useful for measuring or ranking potential jurors.
- Investigation of prospective jurors- collect information from public records, talk with community members, get drive-by photographs, and neighborhood evaluations (are lawns manicured? burglar bars? bumper stickers?).
- Juror questionnaire for voir dire – should include 5 types of questions; analogies, education, commitment, correlation, and selection. You should focus on critical issues in the case and educate and commit potential jurors to these issues.
- Focus Groups– a group of 8-10 participants who are presented with the unbiased facts and issues of the case for a discussion of pros and cons – used to elicit direct feelings and attitudes toward issues, and to gain insight into problematic areas.
- Mock trials – includes opening statements, witnesses, evidence, closing arguments, jury deliberation, and verdict. A mock jury consists of people representative of those likely to appear on the jury. Gives you the chance to observe reactions to theories and witnesses.
Understand what type of juror is likely to have a preconceived bias regarding the facts of your case.
Consider what kind of juror you want and do not want. Create a profile including:
- Education Level
- Race, relationship, and ethnic background
- Marital & family status
Identify the 3 or 4 main salient points on which your case rests and use these points to persuade the jurors of the correctness of your case.
Dr. Kenneth Manges, is a Forensic Psychologist and vocational expert who offers consultation and comprehensive evaluations across the United States. His analyses have been recognized for their clarity and scientific rigor. He offers reasonably certain opinions about the psychological impact of physical injury or emotional trauma as they effect earning capacity and the impact of loss on future work and quality of life. Well regarded in the litigation arena, he is a trusted and respected authority and offers evaluations that have been consistently upheld in both state and federal courts.