The Importance of Voir Dire

Dec. 30th, 2014   /   , , , , , , , , , ,

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Voir dire is the process during which lawyers question potential jurors in order to determine their ability to be objective members of a jury during a criminal or civil trial. As our Florida personal injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Aronberg, Aronberg & Green know, voir dire is an incredibly important part of any trial; if the process goes wrong, if an impartial individual makes his or her way onto the jury, justice itself is put at risk.

A very recent personal injury case that made its way to the Supreme Court, Warger v. Shauers, highlights the importance of a comprehensive, thorough process of voir dire during which all potential jurors are completely honest. The case began when Warger sued Shauers for negligence after the former sustained injuries during a motor vehicle accident. After the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant, Shauers, one of the jurors from the case contacted Warger’s lawyer and told them that the jury foreperson had disclosed during deliberations that her daughter had previously been at fault in a fatal motor vehicle accident and that a lawsuit would have ruined her daughter’s life.

Our personal injury lawyers know that this person – who eventually became the jury foreperson – should not have made her way onto the jury. In a case about a motor vehicle accident injury, someone whose own daughter was involved in a serious motor vehicle accident, especially at fault in the accident, should not have been allowed to serve on the jury because they are sure to have been biased in favor of the defendant. Any bias on behalf of any of the jurors puts justice in a given trial at risk.

After obtaining an affidavit from the juror who contacted Warger’s lawyer, Warger’s attorney requested a new trial, arguing that the jury foreperson had deliberately lied (about her ability to be impartial and her ability to award damages during the important process of voir dire. Unfortunately, the district court denied the request, citing Federal Rule of Evidence 606(b), which bars evidence concerning any statements made during jury deliberations. Despite this federal rule, people in Warger’s unfortunate situation, who have fallen victim to lies and deceit during voir dire, still have a chance to maintain their right to an impartial jury. Parties to the trial may bring up issues of deceit during voir dire before the verdict is rendered, and they can use evidence from sources other than jurors after the verdict is rendered – basically, they can bring to the courts attention the fact that a juror may not actually be impartial, but they can’t violate a referral evidence rule in doing so.

If you’ve been injured due to the wrongdoing or negligence of another, please contact our personal injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Aronberg, Aronberg & Green for a free consultation. We will represent you in seeking to obtain compensation and, if your case goes to trial, we will handle the process of voir dire and the entirety of the trial with the knowledge and experience our clients have trusted for years. To contact us, please call 561-266-9191 or e-mail us at daronberg@aronberglaw.com

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