Picking a Jury in Maryland

Voir Dire in Maryland is often a difficult experience for injury lawyers on both sides of the aisle because Maryland arguably has the most truncated voir dire process in the country. I’ve tried a lot of cases where both lawyers were able to glean just a few relevant things from the jurors, we make the obvious strikes and both parties end up not really knowing anything about who is on their jury. I’ve written a little bit about this problem in a previous Maryland Injury Lawyer Blog post.

The Maryland Bar Journal has an article this month by Carolyn Koch of Jury Solutions, LLC offering some tidbits on ways to get a bit more information under Maryland’s limited voir dire process. Two of her suggestions I found to be particularly interesting.

Ms. Koch suggests the following question: If you or someone close to you was injured due to someone else’s negligence, do you think you would bring a lawsuit?

I would add something to the effect of “if the claim was not resolved to your satisfaction” but I think this is a great question that we have not requested. I know a lot of judges in Maryland who are not going to allow this question or anything like it that diggs too deeply into opinions. But I think it is a great question to put on your proposed list of voir dire.

The second idea Ms. Koch mentions that I think is a great idea is that you ask the judge if the lawyers can give each juror a print out of the voir dire questions to encourage more responses. While this makes a lot of sense to me, there are two practical problems. First, it is rare to have a copy of voir dire that satisfies the judge and the defense lawyer because usually questions are taken from both lawyers’ voir dire. Second, while it does make sense, it is a bit outside the box so you risk annoying the judge just like you risk annoying the waiter when you make four modifications to the dish you order. Whether the latter problem is worth the trouble will depend on the judge you draw.

  • Henry S. Queener

    We all complain about Voir Dire–what ever state we practice in. I practice in Tenn. and Voir Dire is all about the judge, but Ball on Damages is a good place to start.

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