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What is Voir Dire?

July 9th, 2015 by

Voir Dire is a French phrase that means “to speak the truth.” Blacks Law Dictionary 1569 (7th Edition 1999). What is it?  Voir dire is the first exposure members of the jury panel have to a lawsuit wherein panel members will be selected to serve on the jury. The Voir Dire is the primary tool to address the issue of securing an impartial jury to hear the case. The purpose of voir dire is to allow each party to the lawsuit to have an opportunity to examine the members of the panel to determine if they are disqualified.  Implement Dealers Mutual Insurance Company v. Castleberry, 368 S.W. 2d 249, 254 (Tex. App.- Beaumont 1963, writ ref’d n.r.e.). The constitutional right to a fair trial includes the right to conduct a proper Voir Dire. Babcock v Northwest Memorial Hospital, 767 S.W. 2d 705,709 (Tex. 1989).

The scope of the Voir Dire includes any matter reasonably related to the kinds of issues presented by the facts of the case. Babcock, at 709. The trial judge should give lawyers broad latitude during a Voir Dire examination of the panel . TEIA v Loesch, 538 S.W. 2d 435, 440 (Tex. Civ. App. – Waco 1976, writ ref’d n.r.e.). The policy for this was explained in the decision of In Re Hill, 334 S. W. 3d 226, 228 (Tex. 2011, per curiam) : “A party selecting jurors for trial must be given latitude to intelligently use its peremptory challenges to seat a jury that, to the greatest extent possible, is free from bias.”