Jury Selection (Voir Dire) in An Indiana Personal Injury Case
Oct. 31, 2014
Northwest Indiana injury and accident lawyer discusses Voir Dire (jury selection) in Indiana injury and accident cases at michigancityinjurlaw.com.
One of the biggest risks of going to trial in a medical malpractice or other injury case is that the client puts their faith in the jury and the process. Jury selection gets its name from the French “Voir Dire,” which translated means “to see to speak” “to speak the truth”.
Parties to Indiana personal injury cases have a right to jury selection
Indiana trial rule 47(D) sets out the litigants rights to pick a jury – to go through the voir dire process.
Examination of jurors: The court shall permit the parties or their attorneys to conduct the examination of prospective jurors, and may conduct examination itself. The court's examination may include questions, if any, submitted in writing by any party or attorney. If the court conducts the examination, it shall permit the parties or their attorneys to supplement the examination by further inquiry.
In order to seat a jury panel in any case – it is very important to have an honest and frank discussion with the jury panel. If a juror is not truthful in his/her answers – it hurts the parties to the lawsuit and the system.
Indiana courts recognize the importance of voir dire in the justice system.
One court said: purpose of voir dire is to determine “whether prospective jurors can render a fair and impartial verdict in accordance with the law and evidence.” Another court said:
It has been said that the ultimate function of voir dire is to explore the nuances of conscience to determine whether a prospective juror is able to participate fairly in the deliberations on the the issue of guilt, confining his judgment to the facts as presented, and that the overall purpose of voir dire examination of jurors is to determine the real state of their minds so that a fair and impartial jury can be chosen.
If jurors withhold information from the judge or lawyers when specific questions are asked it undermines the purpose of picking a fair and impartial jury in any particular case. The fact is that some people are not appropriate for some cases. If a person had a difficult time with a lawsuit that he was involved in – the judge and lawyers should know that if they ask – because that piece of information may be important to them – and maybe the prospective juror would be better fit to serve on another case.
Over the last few years, there have been instances of jurors outright lying or withholding information from the court when asked. Nothing good can come out of this situation. I court in another state said this in regards to a juror's lack of candor. “We emphasize the distressing conduct in this case: a juror, in whom the parties necessarily placed their faith to be a fair and neutral finder of fact, affirmatively misled the parties and the trial court under oath. We cannot and do not condone this conduct.”
Litigation is stressful enough to all parties involved. Lawsuits can have impact a person's life significantly. Our jury system is the best system around but it is dependent on juror's being open and honest when questioned by the judge and/or lawyers. Without honesty – the system breaks down.
What are your thoughts about the Indiana jury trial system? Should jurors tell the truth when they are questioned?
If you have any questions about an Indiana personal injury or medical malpractice case, call our Northwest Indiana personal injury lawyer(s) or fill out the internet consultation form on the right hand side of the screen.