Jury duty is something that makes many people nervous. The courthouse procedures, the judge sitting stoically in a black robe, and the formality of the courtroom process can be intimidating. However, serving on a jury is an important civic duty.
Typically the jury pool is drawn randomly from drivers license records or voting registration lists, so the likelihood of being summoned for jury duty are high. However, the odds of actually being selected to serve on a jury are much lower. A 2012 survey found that 27% of U.S. adults said they had served on a jury.
When you arrive for jury duty it may feel like a lot of waiting around. Eventually you may be selected to enter a courtroom and be asked questions to determine whether you will be selected to sit on that jury for that specific case. When attorneys are asking potential jurors questions it is called voir dire (sounds like “war deer”), it is the jury selection process.
Attorneys ask questions of potential jurors to determine juror attitudes, biases, and their ability to truly be an impartial juror. The attorneys will inquire about you personally, and will also ask questions about your friends, families, and acquaintances. This is in an effort to uncover any potential biases for or against one of the parties in the lawsuit.
To make your jury duty experience feel less daunting, we’ve put together a list of example questions that you may be asked during the voir dire process in a civil personal injury case.
Example Questions the Lawyers May Ask
- Have you or any member of your family, or a close friend, ever made a claim for personal injuries?
- If yes: what was the outcome of the claim? Was the injured person satisfied with the outcome?
- Have you or any member of your family, or a close friend, ever been a party in a legal proceeding?
- If yes: What was the nature of the proceeding? What was the outcome of the proceeding?
- Do you believe there are too many lawsuits?
- Do you feel that it is okay for the plaintiff to be here, knowing s/he sued the defendant?
- Do you believe that jury awards are often too low?
- Have you ever run for office or considered running for elected governmental office?
- Do you consider yourself a person who follows the rules? Do you dislike following someone else’s rules?
- Would you accept if you were offered a spot on a reality television show?
- Are you competitive?
- Do you agree with the statement that you trust someone until they give you a reason not to?
The above questions are designed to give the lawyers various insights. Some are designed to give insight into personal experiences and potential biases a juror may have about personal injury law suits or the legal system in general. Other questions are designed to allow the lawyers to understand more about your character. We want to know if you are pro-plaintiff or pro-defendant, if you are a leader or a follower, if you are trusting, cynical, or shy.
When it comes time for you to answer questions during jury selection, just answer honestly. We understand that many jurors are nervous, and our goal is not to trip you up or make the process more difficult for you.
To those of you who have responded to the call for jury duty, thank you. While you may not be initially excited about jury duty, we hope if you are summoned in the future, you appreciate how important your service is to making our community safer for our children, families, and neighbors.
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Matthew G. Miller serves clients throughout Eastern Nebraska and parts of Western Iowa including Douglas County, Sarpy County, Lancaster County, and Pottawattamie County, as well as the cities of Omaha, Lincoln, Bellevue, Papillion, Fremont, Blair, Elkhorn, and Council Bluffs.