Voir Dire

What is the definition of voir dire?

Voir dire is a legal term that describes the process personal injury lawyers use to qualify potential jurors prior to a trial.

Some sources attribute this phrase to an Old French phrase that means, “To see, to hear.” However, the phrase actually comes from a specialized, hybrid language known as Legal French, where it means “to speak the truth.”

What is the legal concept of voir dire?

This term specifically applies to the process of questioning potential jury members to determine their suitability for a particular proceeding.

Sometimes personal injury lawyers also use this term in reference to preliminary questioning of a potential witness. However, you probably will not see this context used too often.

How does voir dire work under the Pennsylvania statutes?

The state of Pennsylvania defines the terms of voir dire in its rules governing the impaneling process for a jury.

When a case approaches its designated court date, attorneys for both the plaintiff and the defendant meet in the courtroom—in the presence of the judge—to select or “impanel” a jury.

Potential jurors receive notices of jury service, instructing them to report to the courthouse on the designated day and time. One by one, the attorneys take turns asking potential jurors questions to determine whether they might be beneficial to their case. This is the voir dire—the formal process of asking questions to potential jurors.

Once the attorneys have questioned the potential jurors, they take turns striking names from the list until they arrive at the desired number of jurors—typically 12, plus alternates.

How does voir dire affect a personal injury case?

Because this process is so important to the outcome of any trial, legal scholars have studied voir dire for centuries in search of strategies that will provide a legal advantage to one side or the other.

As simple as the process sounds, it is, in many ways, an art form. It requires your attorney to read body language and facial expressions and to interpret potential jurors’ answers in search of hidden meaning. The goal is to identify the potential juror’s mindset, as well as any potential biases that could harm your case.

In a personal injury trial, this process is especially important because it can help your attorneys achieve the best possible outcome for your case.

Will my lawyer handle voir dire in my case?

Your legal team will handle every aspect of your case, including voir dire.

With more than four decades of experience protecting the legal rights of our Pennsylvania clients, the personal injury attorneys at Berger and Green are well-versed in the voir dire process. We can help you prepare for your time in court and will choose jurors who will most benefit your case at trial.

Trust us to help you obtain the compensation you deserve in your personal injury case. Contact us to schedule your free consultation and case evaluations, or to speak with a Pittsburgh personal injury lawyer today. Call 412-661-1400 for more information.