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Duncan v. County of Sacramento


August 11, 2008



Good morning, and welcome to the United States District Court. Thank you for both your presence and your anticipated cooperation in the questioning process we are about to begin. You are performing an important function in our legal system.

The court personnel who will assist me in this trial are on the platform below me. The Courtroom Deputy is Shani Furstenau. She is on the platform below me on my left side. Next to her is the Certified Court Reporter, Kimberly Bennett.

We are about to begin what is known as voir dire. The purpose of voir dire is to have each of you disclose any feelings, bias, and prejudice against or in favor of any party, so that we can ascertain which of you can fairly sit as a juror in this particular case. Voir dire consists of questions designed to tell the parties some general things about each prospective juror, and to provide the parties with information about whether a prospective juror should be a juror in this case. It allows the parties to exercise more intelligently their peremptory challenges. A peremptory challenge is a request by a party to excuse a juror. The parties will exercise their peremptory challenges after the questioning is complete. In addition, voir dire enables the Court to determine whether any prospective juror should be excused for cause. Challenges for cause permit rejection of a prospective juror for a legal basis.

1. Ms. Furstenau, please administer the oath to the panel.

2. Counsel, the Jury Administrator has already randomly selected potential jurors and placed their names on the sheet that has been provided to each party in the numerical sequence in which they were randomly selected and each juror has been placed in his or her randomly-selected seat.

3. I will ask a series of questions to the jurors as a group. If you have a response, please raise your hand or the number you've been given, which reflects your seat number. Generally, you will be given an opportunity to respond in accordance with the numerical order in which you are seated, with the juror in the lowest numbered seat first. If no juror raises his or her hand, I will simply state "no response" for the record and then ask the next question. If you know it is your turn to respond to a question, you may respond before I call your name by first stating your last name, then your seat number, and lastly your response. That should expedite the process.

4. This case is expected to take _______________ days for the presentation of evidence, after which they will give you closing arguments. After closing arguments, I will give you closing jury instructions and you will begin your deliberations. Because I handle criminal matters on Fridays and other civil matters on Mondays, we will only be in trial three days a week: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. On the days we are in trial, we will begin at 9:00 a.m. and usually end around 4:30 p.m. As soon as you commence jury deliberations, you will be expected to deliberate as necessary during these hours, including Mondays and Fridays, but not on the weekends, until you complete your deliberations. Will any of you find it difficult or impossible to participate in this trial during these times?

5. Is there any member of the panel who has any special disability or problem that would make it difficult or impossible for that person to serve as a member of this jury?

6. Would the plaintiffs' counsel introduce himself, his clients, and indicate any witness that plaintiffs may choose to call.

7. Defendants' counsel now has the opportunity to do the same thing.

Do you know any of the named individuals or any of the potential witnesses; or ever had any business or other dealings with any person just named?

8. Have you ever served as a juror in a criminal or a civil case, either in federal or any other court?

i. Please state the nature of the case and, without stating the result reached, state whether the jury reached a verdict.

9. My deputy clerk will give juror number 1 a sheet on which there are questions that I want each of you to answer. Please pass the sheet to the juror next to you after you answer the questions.

(a) Name

(b) Age

(c) Educational background

(d) Your marital status

(e) Present and former occupations for you and any person residing with you

10. The parties may conduct the follow-up voir dire-15 minutes a side.


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