Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Use a Questionaire in Every Criminal Trial?

I have become increasingly convinced that a questionaire, even a short one, should be used in every criminayl jury trial.  Last week a colleague was informed on the second day of a DWI trial by the prosecutor that he had prosecuted one of the impaneled jurors for DWI.  The juror had failed to disclose this in response to the standard voir dire question about whether any of the jurors had been convicted of a crime.  I think jurors will be more forthright in disclosing such information in writing and out of the hearing of other jurors.  The question can also make it clear that DWI is a crime, not just a minor traffic violation.  The questionaire can be tailored to the particular case and ask the juror if they would prefer individual questioning.  I may also hand out the questionaire in the courtroom, review the questions with the jurors, and explain emphatically the need to answer truthfully.

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