A young lawyer asked me today to suggest some questions to ask the jury panel in a prostitution case.

To voir dire a jury, one needs only a single question. It applies to any situation and to any topic:

How do you feel about…?

For example:

Sex: How do you feel about prostitution / pornography / strip clubs?

Drugs: How do you feel about illegal drugs / drug use / the war on drugs?

Rock and roll: How do  you feel about Queen / Elvis / Buddy Holly?

How do you feel about…? is the Universal Voir Dire Question. 

Everything else is either warmup (how many of you have loved ones who have been affected by illegal drugs?) or followup (Ms. Jones, how will that affect your ability to be fair in this case?).

(At the State Bar's Advanced Criminal Law Course last month a prosecutor told me that he has to ask certain questions and do things a certain way, and so can't follow my 16 Rules for Better Jury Selection, which give the jury more control over the conversation. He is of course, correct: if you think you can't, you can't.)


6 responses to “The UVDQ”

  1. Do you ever ask if jurors have feelings about the parties in the case? For example, if I was in a jury pool for one of your trials, would it be important to know that I read your blog and happen to like what you write? Or,if I have a severe dislike for one of the attorneys. I’ve never heard those questions asked, just the “do you know any of these people” questions.

    • What would your response be, if you were on my jury panel and the judge asked if you knew me?

      I’ve thought about asking if anyone reads my blog, but a) anyone who does so regularly is welcome on my jury (so I don’t want to out them); and b) I don’t want people to start reading it mid-trial.

  2. I would probably respond with “Please define know” or “I know of Mr. Bennett, and read his blog regularly, but have never met him personally”. I have a job where I talk to auditors from time to time, so I am predisposed to answer only the question that’s asked, making the questioner ask for specifics. That sometimes annoys whoever is asking the questions.

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