Voir Dire is a process in the American Judicial system wherein attorneys for both the Plaintiff and the Defendant can question potential jurors to determine juror suitability to their respective client's case.
The Judge presiding over the case may also take the opportunity to question those in the jury pool. Often, they will do so concerning general questions related to potential jurors and their relative capabilities to serve as jurors on a case.
Why is Voir Dire Important?
Voir Dire, pronounced "vwahr deer," a French term, literally means to "speak the truth," a truly essential component of our judicial system for determining whether potential jurors will be able to judge the facts of a case fairly. Judges and lawyers use Voir Dire's process to determine whether potential jurors can be "fair and impartial," have strong opinions about the subject matter of the case, and whether certain jurors exhibit biases or have preconceived ideas about the issue to be heard.
Potential jurors may be dismissed from a jury "pool" on two bases.
First, a potential juror may be dismissed with the attorney utilizing what's called a "peremptory challenge."
Often, the attorney uses such a challenge, which the Court limits to a specific number in a case, not due to any potential bias but rather because the attorney finds the potential juror does not fit the facts of the case. Second, a potential juror may be dismissed "for cause."
Dismissing a potential juror "for cause" involves a stricter standard in that the attorney seeking dismissal must make a showing of a conflict or bias by the person.
Counsel opposing the dismissal of a potential juror for cause may attempt to rehabilitate the person to show the Court a lack of bias or conflict by the person.
The presiding Judge may likewise attempt to rehabilitate a potential and/or solidify the person's conflict or bias, and therefore the potential juror will be dismissed.
More Reasons to Understand What Voir Dire is
Other important reasons and uses of Voir Dire relate to the attorneys trying to get a better sense of what kind of jurors the individuals might make as it relates to the underlying facts of their cases. Attorneys use Voir Dire to attempt to sway the point of view of their case, make a connection with a juror and make efforts during the process to educate the potential juror in the event they become empaneled on the case. For all of the reasons stated, Voir Dire is essential to case presentation and a possible outcome with a verdict.