Every lawyer needs to be well prepared for the first meeting with a prospective jury. First impressions are critical in all aspects of life, and that is particularly true with regard to prospective jurors – both their impression of the lawyer, and the lawyer's impression of them. Lawyers want the jurors to like them, and be impressed with their demeanor and line of questions. Ideally, lawyers also want the jurors to start to identify with them and their client. On the other hand, legal professionals also want to obtain an accurate first impression of their prospective jurors – within minutes of meeting them, lawyers must decide whether to accept or strike them as the fact-finders in your case.
Thus, being prepared for voir dire is critically important. This involves more than preparing a list of questions to ask. It includes thinking through the case from the jury’s point of view, thinking about how to make the jury comfortable, figuring out what biases may influence a juror, strategizing regarding the order of questions, and deciding how to use the limited time in which lawyers have to ask them.
The objective of jury selection is to identify those individuals who are likely to view evidence based on their life experience in a particular way that is either predisposed to your case or is predisposed to your opponent’s case. Cases are often won or lost by jury selection. The fundamental right to a jury trial is embodied in the United States Constitution.
- Karla J. Kraft
Hodel Briggs Winter LLP