Topic: General Voir Dire

IPhone + Encarta = New Trial

A jury verdict was reversed earlier this month due to juror misconduct when the foreperson used his Iphone to look up the definition of “prudent” on Encarta during a break in the jury’s deliberations.  In Tapanes v. State, 42 So. 3d 159 (Fla 4 DCA 2010) the court wrote: “Although here we confront new frontiers in technology, that being the instant access to a dictionary by a smartphone, the conduct complained […]

September 20, 2010

Can A Potential Juror Be Asked To “Promise” A Verdict?

A common technique in voir dire, especially by defense attorneys, is to ask each prospective juror during jury selection whether the juror will “promise” to return a certain kind of verdict (e.g. guilty or not guilty) if it is supported by the evidence. Many trial judges for a variety of reasons will not permit that type of question to be answered. Last month, in the case of Benayer v. State, […]

August 19, 2010

Don’t Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

Potential juror Sanders may have been sleeping during jury selection. Florida law is clear that “sleeping” during voir dire is a valid race-neutral reason for striking a juror  — not to wake him up,  but to remove him from the panel! See, Davis v. State, 560 So2d 1346 (Fla 3d DCA 1990). When the prosecutor used a peremptory strike against juror Sanders, the lawyer for the defendant, Eugene Harriell, raised […]

February 25, 2010

U.S. Supreme Court Says Courtrooms Must Be Open To Public During Voir Dire

Last week, the United States Supreme Court held that trial judges should not exclude the public from courtrooms during jury selection. Eric Presley’s uncle came to court to watch jury selection in his nephew’s trial. He was the only spectator in the courtroom. The judge said he had to leave. The judge told him he could not sit where potential jurors would be sitting, and instructed him to come back […]

January 26, 2010

A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

During jury selection in a car accident trial, the defense attorney (who had been hired by an insurance company to defend the case), told the jury panel: “I’m a consumer justice attorney, and I represent John Hooks, a merchant marine, not some fancy company, not some conglomerate.” The plaintiff’s attorney immediately objected and moved for a mistrial since the defense attorney had been hired by Hook’s insurance company. The trial […]

September 17, 2008


Contact Robert W. Kelley, Esq.