PICKING A JURY
At last, the day of trial has arrived, but in some ways, this is only the beginning. Remember the last blog post where I told you that American system of justice is adversarial. All of that stamina, courage, and passion discussed, we need all of them more than ever now. Trial days are the most adverse times in the personal injury attorney’s case. The insurance defense attorney will do everything possible to keep a good, fair-minded juror off of the jury. Without a doubt, picking the juror is the most important part to any trial.
SETTING THE STAGE
The personal injury Attorney and the insurance defense Attorney are at their respective tables, the judge is on the bench, the courtroom is full of the venire (potential jurors/jury pool), and the clerk of the court calls the personal injury Attorney’s case. “Ready to proceed, your Honor!” is what comes out of the personal injury Attorney’s mouth. Defense says they are ready too. Now, in my old district, the 13th Circuit Court District, things were done a little different. The judge would make Attorneys give their opening statements to the entire venire.
Over the years being in different courts throughout the State of Mississippi, I have learned that is really an odd way of doing things. Usually, the judge will question the jury pool, seeing if anyone is over the age of sixty-five, needs to be excused for personal reasons, and believe it or not, one of the questions the judges ask here in Mississippi is if anyone is a habitual drunkard or compulsive gambler. I have actually seen a couple of people say that they were to get out of jury duty.
Voir Dire is Latin and literally means to “tell or speak the truth”. In this particular part of selecting a jury, the personal injury Attorney speaks directly to the venire. In other words, on a motor vehicle accident (MVA) that we have been talking about, the personal injury Attorney will ask if anyone, family member, or friends have ever been involved in a MVA. And in every venire about seventy to ninety percent will raise their hands and say yes.
Now, the personal injury Attorney will follow with questions seeking to find out what the venire thinks about MVA, eliciting as much information as possible. When I am doing my Voir Dire, I always introduce myself, tell everyone that I have to ask these questions because I am there to do my very best for our clients at Pepper & Odom Law Firm, I do not want to embarrass anybody, and that I just want the truth from each of them.
As a side note, I always do my very best to be honest and up front with people, even when the truth hurts; people, for the most part, will be honest right back at me. At Pepper & Odom Law Firm, we believe that honesty and straightforward dealing are the only way to go, because of that the insurance defense Attorneys know that our cases are good cases with good people we are representing.
PICKING THE JURY IS NEXT
In our next blog post, we will discuss actually picking the jury from the venire and having that jury empanelled. At Pepper & Odom Law Firm, we have years of trial experience that we will put to work for you, just give us a call at Pepper & Odom Law Firm, 601-202-1111.
Pepper & Odom Law Firm
571 Highway 51, Suite B
Ridgeland, MS 39157