Sunday, March 06, 2005

Never Forget To Ask A Potential Juror....

Do you know the judge, lawyers, parties, witnesses, victim... or anyone else associated with this case?"

Certainly, the wording for voir dire shoud be more artful, but tattoo a reminder on the back of your hand if you have to. Because, as they note at The Volokh Conspiracy, you may not be able to undo the damage if you fail to inquire.

Another real-life example, although one which probably didn't affect the outcome of a trial, involved a married couple with different surnames, both of whom were seated on the same jury.

An example from a trial I observed last week: After extended jury selection and voir dire, both the prosecutor and defense attorney lost some steam with the final juror, and seated him after performing only cursory voir dire. The juror later sent a message to the judge, to the effect of:
I think you should know that in my custody litigation, I am being represented by the prosecutor's husband, and my wife is being represented by defense counsel.
Oops? (To his credit, the judge in this case brought the situation immediately to the attention of the attorneys, so that they could reach an amicable consensus, rather than declaring it a gotcha.)

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