When I first got into trial consulting, I continued to hear, over and over again, how much lawyers hated voir dire.
This made no sense to me at first, because voir dire seemed like the one part of trial that was unscripted and "loose" and, therefore, "fun."
That's exactly the reason it scares most lawyers. The very fact that voir dire is unscripted is what makes the entire process frightening.
However, the fact of the matter is that voir dire isn't totally unscripted. You can create the questions you plan to ask jurors; you just don't know what they're going to say in response.
It's follow-up that's the problem.
Never fear! There are really only three questions you need to have in your repertoire to follow up with jurors. And they are...(drumroll please...)
Tell me about that.
What was that like?
How important is...?
Think about it. You can follow up with any juror about ANYTHING using one of these three questions.
Say you begin with a question asking if anyone has ever been in a car crash. You call on a juror.
JUROR: "Yes, I was in a car crash."
YOU: "Tell me about that."
JUROR: "Well, it was back in 1995. A car hit me from behind."
YOU: "What was that like?"
JUROR: "It was awful, I had back pain for about a year after that."
YOU: "Tell me about that" or "What was that like?"
JUROR: "It was really hard. I had to miss work for 3 weeks."
YOU: "How important is... it for [drivers to keep their eyes on the road], [insurance to pay when you've been injured] etc.
"Tell me about that" is a way to elongate the conversation. It can be used nearly anywhere. (Thank you Don Keenan.)
"What was that like?" is a way to navigate the juror's experience.
"How important is..." is a great way to get at the principle behind what you're talking about.
Follow up using these three questions. Anytime you're stuck, pull one of these questions out of your back pocket and you'll be good to go.
Listen to this podcast episode to learn more.
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