In one of the largest empirical studies of voir dire, funded by the U.S.
This correlation to past research lead to the observation that "it seems from the direction and magnitude of the change scores that during a judge-conducted voir dire jurors attempted to report not what they truly thought or felt about an issue, but instead what they believed the judge wanted to hear." (22) This skew continued to exist even when the judge adopted a less formal method of examination.
(24) When the attorneys provided some self-disclosure, e.g., admission of nervousness or cursory biographical information, and further conducted the voir dire in a warm and "liking" manner, self-disclosure levels rose.
Other empirical studies have confirmed the validity of "reciprocity effect" as a method of increasing juror self-disclosure during voir dire. (26) These findings correlate with much of the antidotal reporting from trial advocacy institutions and well known attorneys, both plaintiff and defense.
The ability to effectively elicit information directly from prospective jurors, however, is only part of productive voir dire. The more pressing question becomes "what information should be asked of prospective jurors?" Because no two cases are identical, no set of stock questions can be considered sufficient.
The essence of voir dire is to open a dialog with prospective jurors in a way that encourages meaningful self-disclosure.
Attorneys who use voir dire as a preliminary opening statement - to the exclusion of ferreting out biases - do themselves and their clients an injustice.
Based on years of focus group research, most trial consultants are convinced that jurors come into voir dire with opinions affecting the way they will view the case and that attorneys who place educating jurors about the case first are failing to learn about potentially detrimental biases.
They really should have asked more questions in voir dire about people's experiences with bad medical care.
Spending most of the time in voir dire talking at jurors instead of listening to them is hardly an effective way of uncovering bias.
Voir dire is the only time during the trial when jurors interact with attorney General research in persuasion suggests that rapport-building or finding similarities with others can make a speaker more persuasive.
Unfortunately, if these biases are not recognized in voir dire, they are likely to come into play against the client sometime during the trial.