Voir Dire Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Voir Dire, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Voir Dire?

(v) Voir dire is the opportunity to examine the jurors before their appointment as regards to their integrity and balanced approach. Voir dire means to see the person and talk to him personally with a purpose to evaluate him. Jurors are interviewed by judges and attorneys before assigning the case to them.

History and Definition of Voir Dire

Voir dire is a term that directly translates from Old French to "to speak the truth." In the context of law, it refers to a preliminary examination or questioning of potential jurors to determine their qualifications, potential biases, and any conflicts of interest they may have. The goal of the voir dire process is to create a fair and impartial jury that can objectively evaluate the evidence presented during the trial.

During voir dire, the judge and/or attorneys may ask questions of the potential jurors regarding their background, experience, attitudes, beliefs, and opinions. The potential jurors may also be asked to reveal any relationships or connections they have to any parties involved in the case. Based on the responses given, the judge then makes a determination as to whether or not the potential juror is fit to serve.

Examples of Voir Dire

  1. During the voir dire process, the defense attorney questioning a potential juror may ask about the perceived weight of eye witness testimony.

  2. The judge in a criminal case may ask potential jurors if they have any biases towards the defendant based on their race or ethnicity.

  3. In a civil trial, the prosecution may ask about a potential juror's connections to the defendant's industry.

Legal Terms Similar to Voir Dire

  • Peremptory Challenge: A lawyer's objection to a proposed juror without any need to give a reason for the challenge.

  • Jury Selection: The process of choosing a jury from a pool of eligible jurors.

  • Challenge for Cause: A lawyer's objection to a proposed juror based on a specific and stated reason, such as a bias or conflict of interest.