OVI Voir Dire: How To Pick A Jury In An OVI Case
OVI Voir Dire – How To Pick A Jury In An OVI Case
If you tell your friends that you punched someone in the nose, they will ask, “Why… what happened?” If, however, you are arrested on suspicion of OVI (drunk driving), your friends may offer sincere condolences. In other words, they assume you are guilty. Indeed, this presumption is only one of many obstacles that your attorney must overcome if you are going to have a realistic opportunity at obtaining a not guilty verdict. Other factors that should be considered at your OVI voir dire:
- jurors identify with police officers and view their testimony as credible.
- It is likely that you will not be able to testify in your own defense;
- the prosecution may have the benefit of chemical evidence that will be touted by the prosecutor as being nearly infallible; and
- the law that will likely be applied to the proceeding, in large part, will be prosecution oriented.
OVI Voir Dire – Questioning The Prospective Juror
Voir dire is the process by which prospective jurors are questioned about their backgrounds and potential biases. Your lawyer will select, or perhaps more appropriately reject, jurors who will hear your case. OVI voir dire is a skill. Lawyers are careful during voir dire not to challenge jurors with probing questions that they might feel are irrelevant, or worse insulting, inane and invasive of their privacy. In addition, a good attorney will provide context and explain to the jurors not only what questions are being asked, but why they are being asked.
OVI Voir Dire – Learn From The Best
One of the great pleasures of being involved in multiple OVI-related organizations is the ability to learn from some of the greatest trial attorneys in the country. Usually, advanced OVI seminars include some training in voir dire techniques. I have quite the collection of presentations on voir dire and some great books on trial advocacy for the OVI case. My favorite resource is “Innovative DUI Trial Techniques” by Bruck Kapsack. I also love the methods described by DUI guru Deandra Grant (DUIDLA, NCDD). She focuses the jury on the fact that you are on the defense team… my team. It goes a long way toward crafting a great OVI voir dire.
OVI Voir Dire – Listen, Listen, Listen
Skilled OVI attorneys help jurors understand that voir dire is a vital part of the process of a trial. In addition, they explain that their answers to the questions are extremely relevant and pertinent. They stress to jurors that it is important that they be comfortable with their role in sitting on this particular jury. And they convince jurors that in order to do so, and to assist them in understanding and meeting their obligations, defense lawyers, and the court, need to know how jurors feel and think about certain things.
For these reasons, lawyers know it is important to ask clear, understandable and sufficiently open-ended questions. This allows the jurors to talk and express themselves. Rather than hounding jurors during voir dire, counsel may consider asking one juror to comment upon what another juror thinks or says. Alternatively, a question can be posed and then opened for discussion among the jurors. The most important skill for the attorney is to listen. Only by really hearing and feeling an answer can the attorney judge the potential of a juror. By listening, rather than by cross-examining or intimidating them through questions, DUI defense counsel will more likely get complete and more accurate information in a less threatening way.
OVI Voir Dire – You Are Part Of The Process
At the beginning of every OVI voir dire, I hand my client a pad and pencil. Before we begin, I explain what type of approach we will take. I use him/her as a gauge. It always helps to have as many eyes as possible. On many occasions a client will note a reaction that I did not notice. Sometimes, it is enough to tip the scale in favor of keeping or dismissing a potential juror. And while there is a science involved in an OVI voir dire, it is also an art. Your attorney must rely on that most illusive of commodities – intuition.