Most lawyers agree that a case is won or lost during the jury selection process. Unfortunately, the jury panel composition is unpredictable. Further, some things are simply out of the lawyer’s control, like the amount of time a Judge allows for jury selection, otherwise known as voir dire. Efficient and intelligent use of time and resources during this portion of the case will always provide a positive return. The more eyes and ears paying attention during voir dire the better. Jury consultants can be expensive and should be considered on a case by case basis.
I. Jury Lists – Some courts will allow the lawyers to preview a list of jurors well in advance of voir dire. The normal practice however, is to provide the lawyers with a list an hour or two before starting. It is not possible to know everything about a potential juror based on a half-page or full-page questionnaire, so attorneys should be looking at key indicators that may hurt or help the case. Perhaps someone on the jury panel works in the insurance industry or has a special relationship with the defendant or their attorney. The purpose of voir dire should be to remove jurors from the panel that will be harmful to the case. To the extent the lawyer has hired a jury consultant, he or she should already have identified certain factors to flag when considering who will serve on the jury and who to strike. When requesting the number of individuals needed for a jury panel, consider the venue, facts of the case, and whether the case is pending in county or district court. Busted jury panels are less likely in first-party cases, so a pool of 50 jurors is typically more than enough.