A young lawyer asked me today to suggest some questions to ask the jury panel in a prostitution case.
To voir dire a jury, one needs only a single question. It applies to any situation and to any topic:
How do you feel about…?
Sex: How do you feel about prostitution / pornography / strip clubs?
Drugs: How do you feel about illegal drugs / drug use / the war on drugs?
Rock and roll: How do you feel about Queen / Elvis / Buddy Holly?
How do you feel about…? is the Universal Voir Dire Question.
Everything else is either warmup (how many of you have loved ones who have been affected by illegal drugs?) or followup (Ms. Jones, how will that affect your ability to be fair in this case?).
(At the State Bar’s Advanced Criminal Law Course last month a prosecutor told me that he has to ask certain questions and do things a certain way, and so can’t follow my 16 Rules for Better Jury Selection, which give the jury more control over the conversation. He is of course, correct: if you think you can’t, you can’t.)