Experienced advocates recognize that a case may be won or lost before opening statements. Without an impartial jury, it is very difficult to win despite the facts of your case or your performance. For this reason, many trial lawyers and trial consultants argue that voir dire is the most important part of a trial.
It is also the most challenging. You must quickly identify jurors who will be prejudiced or biased in your case, often while they deliberately hide their intention to destroy your case. In some courts, you must identify these jurors with little or no voir dire of your own.
Experts suggest that up to 70% of all jurors will make their decision about who will win the case after voir dire and opening statements. Despite the fact that jury selection can make or break your case, lawyers often do not devote enough time to learning about jury selection, or prepare adequately. This list of resources provides you differing and unique insights to the most challenging phase of trial.
Top 12 Voir Dire Resources for Lawyers:
David Ball on Damages 3
Widely referred to as “the bible” of handling plaintiff personal injury cases, David Ball on Damages 3 is a “must read” book for plaintiff lawyers. David Ball is considered by many to be the leading civil litigation trial consultant in America. Damages 3 provides specific instructions on how to handle every part of your trial, from voir dire to closing. Many of the issues raised in the sections on jury selection cover topics you might not think are important to ask jurors until your failure to ask results in a loss or a compromised verdict. Sample voir dire questions are provided. The 3rd (white) edition of this book contains substantially more information than the prior (red) edition, and is the only place where the concepts of the Rules of the Road™ method is integrated with the Reptile™ method of trying cases.View Details
Don't Eat the Bruises: How to Foil Their Plans to Spoil Your Case
Jury bias is a serious issue in any case, but an admission of bias is often very difficult to elicit from jurors. Author Keith Mitnik is senior trial counsel for Morgan & Morgan, the largest personal injury law firm in America. Mitnik spends his time mentoring his firm’s younger lawyers and inventing cutting-edge courtroom strategies for cases that range from “minor impact” auto cases to medical malpractice and tobacco cases. Don’t Eat the Bruises reveals very practical topics for voir dire that allow jurors to understand the impact of their bias, and helps you strike more jurors for cause. This is a best-selling book because it is so practical and effective at getting jurors to self identify as biased and excuse themselves.View Details
Winning Case Preparation: Understanding Jury Bias
Much of what we know about jury bias is based upon the early research by Greg Cusimano and David Wenner. In Winning Case Preparation, Cusimano and Wenner team up with fellow lawyer / trial consultants, David Bossart and Edward Lazarus, to provide important insights on how to prepare your case in advance for the way the jurors will view your case. Included in this book are the five types of juror bias, how to identify it when jurors try to hide it, how to develop your trial story acknowledging the effect of common biases, the value of focus groups, and much more. This is one you should not miss.View Details
Seven Steps to Voir Dire (DVD) or Winning in Voir Dire (VHS)
These videos, now long out of print, teach the legendary Gerry Spence’s unique method of conducting voir dire – seeking to build an inclusive group or “tribe” rather than excluding jurors. Despite this method creating fear for many lawyers, it led to an uninterrupted string of wins for Gerry Spence and has worked exceptionally well for those who have mastered it.View Details
Voir Dire and Opening Statement
Two of Spence’s best known students, Nick and Courtney Rowley, have expanded Spence’s method of voir dire for a new generation. In this book they provide insights and strategies for successfully selecting the best jury for your client’s case rather than focusing on who to strike. They address how they deal with their own fears and trepidations, and challenge preconceived ideas about how to connect with and empower each juror to deliver a just verdict. You will learn how to put important case issues front and center in voir dire, and how to get potential jurors to excuse themselves for cause based on their inability to be fair and impartial.View Details
Inside the Juror's Mind
What Every Trial Lawyer Needs to Know
David Wenner is a nationally recognized trial lawyer and trial consultant.. He is perhaps best known for his work on juror bias and decision making. Along with Greg Cusimano, he created the Jury Bias Model™ and has long been an authority on the topic, lecturing across the country on overcoming juror bias. In this video, Wenner teaches you that everyone has certain beliefs, feelings, and attitudes that lend themselves to decision making. These ideas are deeply ingrained in the juror's psyche, and it is unrealistic to believe that jurors will be able to put aside their predetermined beliefs and prejudices in deciding your case outcome. Wenner explains how to identify the jury bias issues that you face and prepare your trial story accordingly. In this way, you can use a juror's predispositions—which may not, on surface level, appear to your advantage—to get a great outcome. Wenner shows us not only why jurors decide the way they do, but also how to influence them on a basic instinctual level.View Details
Jurywork: Systematic Techniques
Jurywork by the National Jury Project provides expert advice, methods, and strategies for effectively handling civil or criminal jury trials. This massive three volume set synthesizes law, sociology, and psychology to help improve jury selection and communication with jurors. The book provides insight into case analysis, trial preparation, juror attitudes, and jury selection questions.View Details
Conducting Voir Dire
Part of a two book series (with Preparing for Voir Dire) this is a book by lawyer / trial consultants Lisa Blue and Robert Hirschhorn. Blue is a successful trial lawyer (Top 50 Women Litigators in the US according to National Law Journal), a former President of AAJ, psychologist, and more recently the trial consultant of choice for Mark Lanier. Hirschhorn is a lawyer and celebrated jury consultant, who has helped select juries in cases resulting in over $35 billion in verdicts, and has consulted in several high profile criminal cases. Together they provide a concise practical guide to voir dire full of expert tips.View Details
How to Talk to Conservatives
As a plaintiff’s lawyer, one of your most difficult tasks is facing conservatives who don’t like lawyers, lawsuits, or people who seek compensation for a loss. In many jurisdictions, you face so many conservatives biased against you and your client that you can’t take them all off for cause. What if you could differentiate conservatives who believe strongly in the personal value of life and liberty, value the constitutional right to civil jury trial, and who will punish rule breakers from those who are truly the worst for your case? In this video, Arkansas trial lawyer Paul Byrd discusses three types of conservatives and how questions in voir dire can help you identify which will be best for the facts of your case, and those who will be worst.View Details
Facts Still Can’t Speak for Themselves.
In this book, Eric Oliver, one of the nation’s leading trial consultants, takes a deep dive into cutting edge research in communication, human judgement, perception, and influence that breaks down the process of turning abstractions into effective persuasive practices. This is particularly important in establishing rapport and reading the jury during voir dire, and then extends to your relationship with the jurors throughout trial. This latest edition discusses the most relevant developments in the science of decision making. For moderate to advanced practitioners.View Details
Practical Jury Dynamics 2
Practical Jury Dynamics 2 provides SunWolf’s expertise on juries, including sections on the biophysiology of the brain and its impact on juries, the social psychology of a juror’s perceptions, and the effects of group dynamics on a juror’s vote in deliberations. Pertinent to both civil and criminal litigation. For moderate to advanced practitioners.View Details