Tools Of Trial Advocacy – Preparing For Voir Dire
There are many tools of trial advocacy that are important for attorney-advocates to perfect in law school and their practice. One tool that is often overlooked is the voir dire process – choosing a jury. The process of selecting those individuals responsible for fact-finding and deciding a legal matter is not one to be taken lightly.
Voir dire may help attorneys identify jurors who can be fair and impartial, rather than unfair and biased. Attorneys are seeking those members of the jury pool who need to be removed and the questions of attorneys should be structured to expose them.
As a preliminary exercise, attorneys must perform a three-part analysis of the prospective jurors, which includes three main components that are self-explanatory:
- Background. Attorneys must determine whether and how the background of a juror, including but not limited to the occupation, education, training, socioeconomic status, politics, and even social media exposure and usage may affect his or her decisions in the case.
- Experience. Attorneys must also determine if and how any jurors’ experiences related to the case, such as being a victim of a crime or plaintiff in another lawsuit, will affect how they view the parties, witnesses, and the evidence.
- Mindset. The opinions, beliefs, and values of a juror are the most important aspects of any juror since this will serve as the foundation for or filter through which they will view and decide the case.
Attorneys may also utilize technology in the jury selection process as the internet and applications related thereto provide sources of information for jurors and about jurors. Many attorneys, paralegals, and trial consultants are making this a much more common practice. However, properly conducting these searches is more challenging than simply conducting a search through Google.
Unfortunately, attorneys often have a limited amount of time to conduct these searches. A jury list may not be available more than a few days before trial and, in some cases, may be only available when voir dire begins. Nonetheless, attorneys may gain valuable information from these juror-related searches.
One expert states: “Combining this with limited voir dire conditions and the potential for some jurors to not answer candidly during voir dire, internet/social media searches are becoming a necessary fact of life in contemporary litigation.”
Discussions with legendary trial attorneys, F. Lee Bailey and Gerry Spence, inspired founders John Patrick Dolan and Irene Garcia Dolan to start the California Desert Trial Academy. In 2012, CDTA opened its doors featuring a more practical and modern approach to legal education. At CDTA, not only do we train, educate, and develop students to be exceptional attorneys, we also train them to be exceptional trial advocates. Call us today at (760) 342-0900 or find out more online here.