Thursday, June 16, 2005

Voir Dire means "to speak the truth" ...

Can you stand some more jury duty "lore" from our unknown author?

You will be sworn to tell the truth and answer questions in open court. The questions are designed to reveal any conflicts of interest you may have in judging a specific case. For instance, if the case is about bank fraud, the court wants to make sure you're not a banker who is too biased to judge the case fairly.

Expect questions about your employment, friendships and family relationships. You may also be asked if you have friends/family members in law enforcement. You will be asked standard questions about your belief in the jury system and if you can judge the case fairly. Questions may be asked by attorneys or from a list of prepared questions presented to you by the judge.

You will likely be asked at this time if you have any scheduling or personal conflicts that will prevent you from serving as a juror. Regardless of whether the question is asked, at this time you must make it clear that you have a conflict with jury service. Be prepared to state why you cannot serve (work, family, philosophical difference.) If you are passionate enough you shouldn't be asked to serve. The court only wants to select jurors who want to serve.

You will be asked if you believe in the jury system and if you can judge the case fairly. Answering with a simple "no" is a sure way to get dismissed. However, you should tell the truth... you are under oath at this time. Expect the judge to ask you why you feel as you do.

Following questioning, the group of potential jurors will be excused for a break. During the break the judge will decide which jurors will be excused "for cause" (meaning they have a legitimate conflict in fairly hearing the case.) Attorneys will also reject potential jurors using a limited number of "peremptory challenges."

Peremptory challenges can be used against you for any reason. They are mostly used to eliminate jurors that either the defense of prosecution thinks will be too detrimental to their side. Once the final list of jurors is determined, you will be asked to return to the courtroom. The names of the chosen will be called by the judge. The people who were not selected as a juror or an alternate will be excused for the day (though they'll have to continue calling in each day for the remainder of the phone-in period.)


jbv's Competitive Edge 


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