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Picking a Jury in Maryland

Voir Dire in Maryland is often a hard 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 could glean just a few relevant things from the jurors, we make the obvious strikes and both parties end up not knowing anything about who is on their jury. I’ve written a 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 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 because of someone else’s negligence, do you think you would sue?

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

The second idea Ms. Koch mentions that I think is a splendid idea is that you ask the judge if the lawyers can give each juror a printout of the voir dire questions to encourage more responses. While this makes 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 come from both lawyers’ voir dire. Second, while it makes sense, it is 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 depends on the judge you draw.

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