To determine jurors’ attitudes toward legal principles that are critical to the defense, including, when appropriate, the client’s decision not to testify;
To preview the case for the jurors so as to lessen the impact of damaging information that is likely to come to their attention during the trial;
To present the client and the defense case in a favorable light, without prematurely disclosing information about the defense case to the prosecution; and
To establish a relationship with the jury, when the voir dire is conducted by counsel.
Counsel should be familiar with the law concerning voir dire inquiries so as to be able to defend any request to ask particular questions of prospective jurors.
Counsel should be familiar with the law concerning challenges for cause, peremptory strikes, and requests for additional strikes. Counsel also should be aware of the law concerning whether peremptory challenges need to be exhausted in order to preserve for appeal any challenges for cause that have been denied.
When appropriate, counsel should consider whether to seek expert assistance in the jury selection process.
Counsel should consider seeking assistance from a colleague or a defense team member to record venire panel responses and to observe venire panel reactions. Counsel also should communicate with the client regarding the client’s venire panel preferences.
Counsel should take all steps necessary to protect the voir dire record for appeal, including, when appropriate, filing a copy of proposed voir dire questions not allowed by the court or reading such proposed questions into the record.
If the voir dire questions may elicit sensitive answers, counsel should consider requesting that questioning be conducted outside the presence of the remaining jurors.
In a group voir dire, counsel should avoid asking questions that may elicit responses that are likely to prejudice other prospective jurors or be prepared to examine such prejudices with the panel and address them appropriately.
Counsel should be familiar with case law regarding the client’s right to be present during individual voir dire. Counsel should fully discuss the risks and benefits of asserting this right with the client.
1. Counsel should consider challenging for cause all persons about whom a legitimate argument can be made for actual prejudice or bias relevant to the case when it is likely to benefit the client.