Florida trial lawyer, Guy S. DiMartino, discusses Voir Dire (jury selection) in Florida injury & accident cases at gsdimartino.com.
One of the bigger risks of going to trial in a personal injury or medical malpractice case is that the client is puts their faith in the jury. An individual is called to service on a Florida jury based on his/her driver's license. Jury selection gets its name from the French “Voir Dire,” which translated means “to see to speak” “to speak the truth” “to see to speak. In order to seat a jury panel in any case – it is very important to have an honest and frank discussion with the jury panel. If a jury is not truth in his/her answers – it can truly hurt the system.
Florida jurors' not telling the truth during “voir dire”
In recent years there have been a number of reported cases where individual jurors were just not truthful when asked certain questions in voir dire. Most of the time, the line of questioning had to do with the juror's experience with litigation. Whether the juror has made a claim for injuries, been a plaintiff (bringing claim) or a defendant (defending claim).
Florida's First District Court of Appeal in Morgan v. Milton addressed the issue of a juror's lack of truthfulness once again. This case arose out of an automobile accident. The case went to trial and the injured person (plaintiff) received a verdict. The defendant did not like the verdict and appealed the case because it was determined that a juror lied during questioning.
How was the juror less than truthful?
The jurors were questioned about any litigation experiences – whether or not they had been or are a plaintiff or defendant in a lawsuit. A juror concealed the fact that she was a defendant in a collection action. The court and the parties later learned that the juror's collection action was pending before the same judge that was handling the trial.
The First District Court of Appeal's Statement
The appellate court puts the importance and the integrity of the jury system and telling the truth during voir dire into context when it said this:
We again emphasize the distressing conduct in this case: a juror, in whom the parties necessarily placed their faith to be a fair and neutral finder of fact, affirmatively misled the parties and the trial court under oath. We cannot and do not condone this conduct.
Litigation is stressful enough to all parties involved. Lawsuits can have impact a person's life significantly. Our jury system is the best system around but it is dependent on juror's being open and honest when questioned by the judge and/or lawyers. Without honesty – the system breaks down.
What do you think? Should a potential juror hold back facts that could impact a party to a lawsuit's case? Should jurors tell the truth when they are questioned?
If you have any questions about the Florida legal system, give me a call at (352) 267-9168 or fill out the internet consultation form on the right hand side of the screen.