By Hon. (Ret.) Ken E. Adair
You Want to Get Crosstalk
Video Transcribed: Hi, I’m Ken Adair. I’m a people’s lawyer and a retired judge, and I want to talk to you some more about voir dire in civil cases. I’ve been talking about the process of setting up voir dire, of making eye contact, identifying those jurors that you don’t feel connect well with you and working on those jurors, how you don’t look down your nose at the jurors ever. At this point, I want to talk to you a little bit about the mindset that you have.
The mindset needs to be that you’re going to include every juror. Wouldn’t you like it at the end of every voir dire, when you had to exercise your peremptories, that you wanted to keep them all? That you wanted to keep every juror on there, but you had to pick out the ones that were just least outstanding for you? That’s what you shoot for, that’s what you try to do. You try to include these jurors and you talk to them like you want them all to be on your side.
You don’t start a war, you don’t create a chasm between one group of jurors and the other jurors, you don’t create a debate. You want to get crosstalk, that’s kind of hard to do. If you’re getting cross-talk in your voir dire, you’re getting a wealth of information. But in the process of doing voir dire, you don’t want to create the chasm, you don’t want to create the conflict, you don’t want to create the debate, but you want to try to include the jurors.
You shoot for that peremptory challenge where you sit down with your clients, scratching your head, saying, “Okay, which one do we want to get rid of? The answer is none of them.
Well, okay, which ones do we probably think we should get rid of because they’re not as awesome as the other ones are awesome?” That’s not unusual and it’s not something you can’t do, it’s something you can do. I’ve never been in a position where I wanted a hundred percent of them, but I’ve had a time or two, a few times, where I wanted nearly all of them.
If that’s your mindset, that’s an important mindset to have, which is inclusion. Include those jurors, go after all of them, you want them all on your team. You show respect and admiration to all of them and all their opinions. Then the decision to who you’re going to strike in your peremptory challenges becomes a little more difficult, and that’s a great place to be in.
I hope this has been a little bit helpful. I look forward to sharing more with you in the future. This has been trial lawyer Ken Adair. If you are looking for co-counsel services or an experienced jury consultant, visit trial.win.