Judge talks about voir dire
I sent my voir dire booklet to all the judges in our state. Here is the email from one of them.
I just finished reading your SKWC “Voir Dire” article. It was excellent, I learned a lot. Although I believe the MacDonald’s case was from New Mexico and not California.
I agree with some of your concerns on the judicial approach to voir dire. The rehabilitation by the judge should not be conducted or at least kept to the very minimum. I’m trying to figure out a balance between allowing counsel as much time as they would like and a juror mutiny as you discussed or not having enough jurors to proceed. Also, on a multiple week trial it is very difficult to get jurors past hardship in the first place. However, few attorneys are as passionate about juror selection as you are.
Twice, I have had attorneys get into the MacDonald case on voir dire and their clients did well with the jury. “How many of you know the Plaintiff was a 70 year old Grandmother whose nylon/polyester underwear melted into her private parts?” She had three surgeries, 700 complaints, that MacDonalds deemed those complaints not worthy of consideration, etc.? And probably a little bit of questions on punitive damages.
Most cases I hear result in what I would consider a favorable verdict for the defense (less than the defense offered prior to trial). Your article hits on what may be some of the reasons.
It is good to have dialogue with our judges. Thanks Your Honor.