As we’ve discussed in detail previously, the right voir dire questions are those that lead you toward achieving two main objectives: 1) identifying jurors whose attitudes do not align with your client or your case, and 2) establishing the foundation for cause challenges. When done correctly, effective voir dire prevents your verdict from resting in the hands of jurors who will filter the evidence through a biased lens.
There’s a tried-and-true method to running an effective voir dire, where jurors feel comfortable being up-front about their beliefs and case-relevant experiences. But while our previous Insights Blogs have provided numerous tips about the types of questions to ask and avoid in voir dire, it can still be daunting to feel like you’re starting from scratch when it comes to drafting the questions themselves – especially when every voir dire should be tailored to your specific case facts.
With so many topics and questions to consider, we recommend picking up a comprehensive resource, such as Pattern Voir Dire Questions: Civil and Criminal. Our own Director of Jury Research, Dr. Christina Marinakis, recently authored the latest edition, and it serves as a massive go-to voir dire guide, with over 2,000 questions and 26 model Juror Questionnaires, organized and customized for an extensive variety of case types, and accompanied by a topical index to help you locate questions that might be applicable to your case at hand. The goal is to ensure that the foundations of an effective voir dire are always close at hand.
Pattern Voir Dire Questions takes you through the proper initial questions to get jurors talking, and a multitude of follow-up questions to tease out the key details. Practice points along the way offer insights into assessing group dynamics, the logistics of tracking juror responses, and using the subtleties of question phrasing to maximize cause strikes, rehabilitate favorable jurors, and gain a strategic advantage.
In fact, one of our favorite new additions to this textbook is Dr. Marinakis’s step-by-step guide to “cause sequencing.” It’s one thing to discover a juror’s potential bias, and quite another to lead him or her down a path to openly admitting that bias and granting you a successful cause challenge. By following a specific line of questioning, however, you can greatly increase your chances of gaining these key victories without wasting your precious strikes.
What Clients Are Saying
“Pattern Voir Dire Questions provides the foundation for voir dire outlines in every type of case we handle. With this book in our office, half the work is done before we even start writing.”
– Kevin C. Mayer, Esq., Partner at Crowell & Moring LLP
“This book is more than an indexed list of voir dire questions; it provides tips and techniques for jury selection for the cases where we may not have the budget for a jury consultant.”
– Matthew R. Schroll, Esq., Partner at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP
“Practice points throughout the book provide practical advice – from techniques for assessing group dynamics to explanations on how the subtleties of an attorney’s phrasing can elicit better information – helping us gain a strategic advantage during jury selection.”
– Miguel R. Palmeiro, Esq., Managing Partner at The Law Offices of Miguel Palmeiro, LLC
How to Learn More
We believe voir dire is an irreplaceable step toward a receptive jury and a favorable outcome. So, if you’re looking for a practical and useful resource to provide a foundation of questions and put the proper methodology into practice, we proudly invite you to check out Pattern Voir Dire Questions, available for purchase in hard copy or electronically. You’ll have a chance to preview the full table of contents and gain a clear understanding of how the questions are intuitively presented for easy application.
Dr. Marinakis is also a seasoned speaker on this same subject. If you would like to discuss with her an opportunity to conduct a Continuing Legal Education seminar or assist with a law firm in-house trial academy, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.