• Oct 31, 2017

Houston Institute joins coalition arguing Mass. law requires attorney-conducted voir dire

This week we joined the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the Criminal Justice Institute in an amicus brief before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial court, arguing that the right to challenge jurors and the commitment to an impartial jury are core principles of the American legal system; that social science has demonstrated that robust, searching voir dire is required to identify juror bias, including implicit bias; and that attorney-conducted voir dire is more effective than judge-led voice dire because jurors respond differently to judges and attorneys, and attorneys’ understanding of and familiarity with the issues in their cases may permit a more focused voice dire. We urge the Court to find that the Massachusetts voir dire statute mandates attorney-conducted voir dire, which has improved jury selection, and that the court disallowing an appropriate counsel-initiated question was an abuse of discretion.

Read our brief:

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