Attorneys often make the mistake in voir dire of failing to be honest with jurors. I often see attorneys try to hide bad facts or spend hours figuring out how to refer to the bad facts in a way that makes them seem okay. By the time the question is posed to the jurors, it is so disorganized with run-on sentences that jurors don’t even understand the question. Much stress and confusion could be saved by simply being transparent. If you are worried about something in your case, tell jurors honestly that you are worried! They are human – this lowers the barrier between you and them. Then tell them what you are worried about, why it worries you, and ask them to discuss it with you. Do NOT ask “having heard that, can you still be fair to my client?” It is a useless question that will yield no meaningful or honest answers. Instead, just have a conversation. Be relaxed, open, and honest. For example:
- I need to ask you all a serious question. There is something that I’m very concerned about in this case. My client is not the most likeable guy. He comes off abrasive and defensive. He is not warm and welcoming. He may get on the stand and offend some of you. I’m worried because I don’t want any of you to feel offended, but also because I worry that even if you find that the defendant more likely than not caused my client’s injuries, no one likes helping a person who is abrasive or offensive. So we need to talk about that. What kinds of problems will you have in giving my client a verdict for his injuries because of his personality?
Jurors will appreciate the honesty while at the same time, you will get some valuable information from them.