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Teaching voir dire for Michigan personal injury attorneys

August 27, 2011 by Steven M. Gursten

Steve Gursten of Michigan Auto Law will be speaking at the Michigan Association for Justice Trial Skills Seminar, helping injury lawyers with jury selection

Next week, I will be moderating and speaking to my fellow personal injury attorneys at a Michigan Association for Justice seminar. The topic is voir dire, or the questioning of prospective jurors.

Voir dire is conducted by lawyers and by a judge in court. It’s a process that’s used to determine if any juror is biased in a way that would tend to favor one side over another in a trial. Voir dire can be as simple as finding out if a juror already knows one of the parties or lawyers or it can be more complicated, like the insurance company executive who is asked to serve on a No-Fault insurance trial on overdue and owing insurance benefits.

In my opinion, voir dire is the most important part of trial. It is far more important than the opening statement or closing argument. In this world today, with polarized opinions and strongly held views, if you cannot find six or eight people who can be fair to both sides equally, you’ve already failed your client.

For example, according to one study I read, as many as 25 percent of the population doesn’t believe that a person injured due to another person’s negligence should receive compensation for pain and suffering. But in a car accident case, where medical bills and the first three years of wage loss are paid by a person’s own No-Fault insurance company, pain and suffering is the reason you are there in court. If 25 percent of your jury doesn’t even believe the person should get this, despite what the court instructs (or for that matter the Constitution of the United States), you have a real problem.

Voir dire is where so many otherwise well-intentioned injury lawyers fail in court, because they never get a jury who can be fair to both sides. It doesn’t matter if your case is just, or you present a stronger case in each phase of trial; if the people sitting on the jury are fundamentally predisposed before they hear any of the evidence to side against you, you are in big trouble.

And that makes this seminar so important for Michigan personal injury attorneys. If we can’t get a feel for the personalities and likely views of the people on the jury panel, than how can we properly protect our clients after they’ve been injured in auto accidents?

The topics of the seminar, which will be held in Redford, Michigan, as are follows:
o What tools today can assist you in jury selection?
o Tips and strategies to de-select the anti-plaintiff juror
o A helpful panel discussion with several well-respected Michigan judges.

The Michigan Association for Justice (formerly the Michigan Trial Lawyers Association) is a state organization of more than 2,000 personal injury attorneys who are dedicated to helping accident victims. Our lawyers are strong supporters of the Michigan Association for Justice, as past-presidents and current members of the MAJ Board.

I know this seminar will be a valuable resource to help our Michigan personal injury attorneys protect their clients, and get fair results in car accident and truck accident cases.

Steve Gursten is one of the top personal injury attorneys in Michigan. He is head of Michigan Auto Law and has received the highest verdict or pain and suffering settlement in the state for a car accident or truck accident victim in 2008, 2009 and 2010, according to Michigan Lawyers Weekly. Steve is past chair of the Michigan Association for Justice executive board.

– Photo, from left to right, Richard Rosen, Richard Jensen, Terry Cochran, Judge Swartz, Jurdge Stempien, David Wenner, Steven Gursten, Judge Shelton.

Related Information:

What’s the No. 1 thing attorneys can’t tell jurors in trial?

Tort “reform” – A failed experiment in legal-social engineering

Michigan Auto Law is the largest law firm exclusively handling car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state. Call (248) 353-7575 for a free consultation with one of our personal injury attorneys.

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