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NCJ Number: 77880 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Juror Self-disclosure in the Voir Dire - A Social Science Analysis
Journal: Indiana Law Journal  Volume:56  Issue:2  Dated:(1980-1981)  Pages:245-271
Author(s): D Suggs; B D Sales
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 27
Sponsoring Agency: US Dept of Health, Education, and Welfare
Washington, DC 20203
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article asserts that voir dire is a self-disclosure interview because it seeks to obtain background and attitudinal information about prospective jurors; it suggests that voir dire procedures inhibit such self-disclosure.
Abstract: Voir dire refers to the preliminary examination of a potential witness or juror when the individual's competence is at issue. During voir dire, questions are put to prospective jurors by the attorneys or judge or both. Following voir dire, challenges may be made to remove prospective jurors, either for cause or on the basis of a peremptory challenge; challenges for cause are infrequently sustained. Several studies have indicated that the voir dire process does not provide sufficient information for attorneys to identify prejudiced jurors. The article suggests that the procedures used during voir dire and the psychological atmosphere in which it takes place are guaranteed to inhibit rather than facilitate self-disclosure. In recent years, there has been a move away from attorney-conducted voir dire toward judge-conducted voir dire. However, the judge's status and role in the courtroom may inhibit potential juror self-disclosure. In contrast, attorneys, who are at a moderate social distance from jurors, minimize interviewer-biasing effects. In addition, the method of addressing questions to prospective jurors limits self-disclosure. Both the group and the individual-within-a-group styles of questioning tend to encourage group cohesiveness rather than disclosure. Finally, the large interaction distance between persons conducting voir dire and the prospective jurors, as well as the courtroom atmosphere, also lessen the amount of self-disclosure generated in voir dire. The article recommends individual rather than group questioning for prospective jurors. Questioning should be conducted by attorneys from a distance of 3 to 6 feet from jurors. The room where voir dire is conducted should have a warmer and more intimate atmosphere than does the courtroom. The article includes 106 footnotes.
Index Term(s): Attorney-jury interaction; Judicial process; Juries; Juror characteristics; Jury selection; Psychology; Voir dire
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