Voir Dire

Overview of the trial technique of voir dire:
voir dire

— dispel rape myths : address each one, refer to MJ instructions

– You must get in the face of the panel members and tell them that they have normative
beliefs that need to be jettisoned. If you don’t they will rely on them.

–e.g.: “Everyone comes to a jury panel with ideas about what “rape” means, or how a rape victim should act, or what a rapist looks like. Do you agree that a rapist can look like anyone? Do you agree that being a good fighting soldier is not necessarily a predictor of personal behavior? Sometimes, people will rely on their own societal beliefs when deciding a case, rather than relying on the evidence, especially if the evidence is complicated. Can you promise that you will be totally objective and look only at proven facts, without making assumptions about behavior if they are unsupported by proven facts? Do you recognize that if you substitute your own ideas about rape or rape victims for the instructions the judge gives to you, that would be violation of your oath in this case?”

-e.g.:“some people think that if the victim does not immediately report a sexual assault,
that she was not assaulted? If you learned that most victims do not report right away,
would you be willing to consider that information objectively?”

e.g.: “Would you be less likely to convict someone of _________ if the victim and the
accused knew each other (had dated each other, etc.)? Do you think that only strangers
commit _________? If the Military Judge instructed you that a prior dating relationship
was not a sign of consent to a later encounter, would you follow that instruction?”

–rape is NOT sex gone wrong; it is an act of power & control;

–unsympathetic victim:

-nobody deserves to be raped;

-e.g.: “can you be objective even if you don’t like the victim or if you don’t approve of

her lifestyle?”

See, Educating Juries in Sexual Assault Cases,
http://www.aequitasresource.org/EducatingJuriesInSexualAssaultCasesPart1.pdf

Sexual Assault Cases

the victim