The Champion

January-February 2013 , Page 30 

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The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly of an Effective 30-Minute Voir Dire In a Criminal Case

By Robert B. Hirschhorn and Alexandra C. Figari

Often, the process of jury selection is akin to making sausage — the process is ugly but the finished product is a thing of beauty. Witness a recent aggravated assault with a deadly weapon prosecution: An argument in a bar escalated into a serious confrontation involving deadly weapons outside. A jury was left to sort out criminal culpability or lack thereof.

The Efficiency of a One-Page Questionnaire

Prior to trial, the defense, led by criminal defense attorney Dick DeGuerin, was under the impression from the lead counsel that the judge only gave the parties in a felony criminal case an hour for voir dire, and that the judge only used jury questionnaires in capital murder cases. The defense wanted to use a questionnaire because jurors are hesitant to convey their true thoughts, feelings, and opinions in the courtroom.1 The defense enlisted the assistance of the authors, who prepared a specialized one-page questionnaire2 on triplicate carbonless paper with a cardboard backin

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