voir dire

I had jury duty at the county courthouse yesterday and today. Yesterday I was tickled to find myself in voir dire with Phillip Margolin, who writes bestselling legal thrillers! As the attorneys were going over concepts of reasonable doubt, burden of proof, etc., whenever they got tired of calling on the rest of us for our vague, uncertain answers, they’d call on Mr. Margolin to deliver the concise and correct version. He didn’t make it onto the jury–go figure. ;)

I served on that jury but still had to come back to the general jury pool today, and was called into voir dire again just before lunch. Today’s judge added two questions to the list I’d seen the day before–

  • 1) what are your hobbies, and
  • 2) what word would the person who knows you best use to describe you.
  • I never list writing as a hobby. I usually don’t bring it up in conversations about my occupation, with legal and tax authorities, but it’s not a hobby. So it was, “Uh, I read a lot.” ;)

    And although I was under oath, the sanguinity who knows me best would either refuse to answer, or the word would be “evil.” Reader, I evaded and said she would call me “the quiet one.” Sara and anyone else who knows us won’t have trouble cracking the code.

    Funny how social constraints kept me from just saying “evil.” Voir dire is a strange mixture of trying to please and trying to get the heck out of the jury box. Several people said their word was “reliable.” Really, the person who knows you best would sum you up with “reliable”?

    Anyway, I was rejected and got to come home, yay.

    4 Comments

    1. Lindsey October 9, 2012

      I hate those two questions! The first one seems loaded in any context (“tell us what you like to do so we can judge you by it”) and the second one is just too complicated. First of all, who knows me best? How are such things measured for single people? And then, who can sum anyone they truly know well up with just one word? I think they just want to eliminate people like me who hem and haw and can’t decide on a word.

    2. Holly October 14, 2012

      Yes, you never heard such a bland selection of hobbies. Everyone was into reading, gardening, hiking. Oh, except the woman next to me said chicken-raising. But still.

    3. Leboyfriend October 29, 2012

      Damn! If I had known I could have fed you a terribly clever question. “Mr Margolin. What does voir dire mean?” Even famous lawyers will tall you it has something to do with seeing and saying. Actually, it is from the Norman French and means to tell the truth, which is why, in English courts the oath is different from the witness oath and is “I swear by Almighty God thatI will true answer make to all such questions as the court may demand of me.” Oh well, wonderful opportunity missed ;)

      • Holly October 29, 2012

        Yes! I was started when one of the attorneys told us that voir dire means “to speak the truth,” because I had assumed it was the voir that means “to see.” Startled and skeptical…til I looked it up later. :)

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