How Much Latitude is Given When Questioning Potential Jury Members?



A hot topic in Las Vegas jury trials, is the how deep can your lawyer can delve into a potential juror’s views and opinions concerning personal injury jury trials. Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 47(a) entitled Examination of Jurors-Supplemental-Deemed Proper, states that the court shall conduct the examination of prospective jurors and shall permit such supplemental examination by counsel as it deems proper.  

What does this mean in real life? That it is up to each individual judge how much questioning a lawyer is allowed to conduct of a potential juror.


In the context of personal injury trials, in Silver State Disposal Co. v. Shelley, the Nevada Supreme Court determined that "the district court properly allowed voir dire {jury selection} questions on the subject of insurance company affiliation." 105 Nev. 309, 313 (1989).


In looking at case law handed down by the Nevada high court around that same time, the court wrote that "[b]oth the scope of voir dire {juror questioning} and the method by which voir dire is pursued remain within the discretion of the district court." Whitlock v. Salmon, 104 Nev. 24, 28 (1988). "[W]hen a trial judge unreasonably restricts or denies altogether supplemental attorney-conducted voir dire he commits reversible error." Leone v. Goodman, 105 Nev. 221, 223 (1989).  


Despite the above edict, two years after the above case came out, a trial court only allowed questioning of the entire juror pool to 30 minutes. Salazar v. State, 107 Nev. 982 (1991). The Nevada Supreme Court determined that the trial judge was wrong to limit jury questioning to only 30 minutes. This meant the entire case had to go to trial all over again. 


Jury selection is a fun and exciting part of trial. As long as your judge follows the law, your lawyer will be able to question potential jurors to ensure you have as many fair and impartial jurors as possible.


Next time we will discuss how to toss out a potential juror for bias.

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