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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 90583 Find in a Library
Title: Improving Voir Dire Conditions (From Jurywork - Systematic Techniques - Second Edition, P 2.1-2.58, 1983, Beth Bonora and Elissa Krauss, ed. - See NCJ-90582)
Author(s): E Krauss
Corporate Author: National Jury Project
United States of America
Date Published: 1983
Page Count: 58
Sponsoring Agency: Clark Boardman Company, Ltd
New York, NY 10014
National Jury Project
Oakland, CA 94612
Sale Source: Clark Boardman Company, Ltd
435 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper contends that most voir dire as it is routinely conducted cannot reveal prospective jurors' biases and describes tools drawn from social science and legal precedent which can be used to support alternative, improved voir dire conditions and procedures.
Abstract: The typical voir dire is an interview situation aimed at establishing potential jurors' qualifications for a task. Several factors in the voir dire situation affect prospective jurors' responses, including evaluation apprehension, social desirability, social distance from the interviewer, group pressures, and social comparison information. Jurors' impartiality can be affected by case-specific prejudgements as well as general prejudices, and judges' instructions alone cannot totally counteract these influences. To minimize the impact of factors inhibiting juror candor, individual jurors should be examined outside the presence of other jurors, the voir dire should be conducted by an attorney rather than the judge, and questioning should be extensive. Trial judges play a key role in ensuring that effective voir dire conditions are created. Moreover, they can increase the number of peremptory challenges allowed each side and have prospective jurors complete questionnaires prior to voir dire to expedite proceedings. A motion concerning voir dire should address the manner in which peremptory challenges are to be exercised and present an efficient method for empanelling the jury. A desirable approach is the struck system in which peremptory challenges are not exercised until after most prospective jurors have been questioned and qualified. The paper concludes with strategies for presenting motions, arguments, and compromise proposals as well as special considerations when the judge conducts the voir dire. It provides supportive case law and 78 footnotes.
Index Term(s): Jury selection; Peremptory challenges; Voir dire
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