Jury Selection is known as “voir dire” Voir dire means “to speak the truth”. This process is an important part of a automobile accident case in Virginia.
The process invovles the examination of prospective jurors to determine a persons suitability and qualifications to serve on a jury. Only seven people are selected to sit in the jury for a Virginia civil trial. Voir dire consist of oral questions proposed by the Plaintiff’s and Defendant’s respective attorneys. It is used as a tool to determine if a potential juror is biased, knows any of the parties, counsel, or witnesses, or should otherwise be excluded from jury duty.
Typically, jurors will be called to the jury box and, under oath, will answers questions presented to them by counsel or by the presiding judge. Any juror can be subject to dismissal for cause shown to be connected to or biased in the case. A judge may overrule a challenge for cause if a suitable reason has not been sufficiently established. Jurors may also be dismissed for “peremptory challenges” without the need for a reason.
Voir dire is used as a means to achieve the constitutional right to an impartial jury, but is not a constitutional right in itself. It is an important part of the trial process. It is often said that you can try a case 100 times and get 100 different verdicts based on the variety of opinions of juries.
The process of picking a jury involves calling the people of the jury by lot. These thirteen people are questioned and may be struck “for cause”. This essentially means that the Court determines that the juror cannot be fair and unbiased to both parties. After the panel is approved, each attorney gets to strike three jurors. The Plaintiff’s attorney goes first and the defense attorney. They continue until seven jurors are left. A juror can be struck for any reason with exception to race, religion, sex and sexual orientation.
While it is possible to gain insight as to what to expect from certain venues, whether they are conservative or liberal, it is important to note that a jury is unpredictable and it is impossible to discern what will the most persuading factors at trial.