Voir Dire Meaning and Application
What is Voir Dire? Voir Dire is the process which is used to determine whether potential jurors are fit for jury service. Voir Dire questions are also used to verify the competency of witnesses to testify. Voir Dire questions are put forward by either the judge or a lawyer.
Voir Dire Definition – (French) to speak the truth. Voir Dire meaning arises from the Latin word “verum” – “that which is true”. The Latin phrase that Voir Dire originates from is “Verum dicere” which means “to tell the truth”.
Jury Voir Dire refers to numerous procedures related to jury trials. The legal term was coined way back in 1670. Voir Dire meaning then indicated the oath taken by jurors to always tell the truth. Today, it is often perceived as a trial within a trial, to check the potential biases held by individuals selected for jury duty. What is Voir Dire is often taught to law students in trial advocacy courses?
Psychologists Margaret Bull Kovera, John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York and Jacqueline Austin from the University of the Pacific have authored an article attributing trial psychology pioneer, Lawrence S. Wrightman as their inspiration. In this article, they question if jury Voir Dire truly meets its purpose of identifying and removing problematic jurors. The research on Voir Dire questions has seemed to stagnate of late because of an excessive emphasis on traits and attitudes to be the determinants of juror verdicts. According to them, the focus of Voir Dire research should instead take into account the factors that mediate/activate biases depending on the particularities of the situations, messages, and individuals.
How is Jury Voir Dire relevant for regular American Citizens?
Jury Voir Dire is significant for the American citizenry, as jury duty is looked upon as among the most important civic duties a citizen could perform in the US. District courts from every area summon citizens they deem eligible for serving as jury. Voir Dire questions are then put across to those selected and a final decision regarding their eligibility to serve as part of a Court Jury is arrived upon. Anybody above the age of 18 can serve on a Jury in court in the United States. The Jury Selection and Service Act determines the process to be used and the qualifications necessary for the same.
The Primary Myth Concerning the Voir Dire Proceedings
- The point of Voir Dire is to have an unbiased jury – The Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution states that the accused in a criminal trial can demand the right to an impartial jury. The same attests for the Voir Dire definition. Psychologists Kovera and Austin break this myth by saying that complete objectivity is an illusion. No member of the jury can be absolutely neutral, as long as their personal experiences and mindsets shape their perceptions. Voir Dire meaning is not applicable in this case.
What do you Understand by What is Voir Dire Now?
If the official legal Voir Dire definition left you confused at the start, our article should have helped you understand what is Voir Dire amply by now. Voire Dire meaning, in the legal context, refers to the practice of telling nothing but the whole truth by the jurors.
It is something millions of Americans can relate to, as at one time or the other, most Americans are called upon to serve jury duty. When such happens, they are all subject to preliminary Voir Dire questions for the judge/lawyer to understand the biases they come with and whether they are appropriate for serving as part of a jury.