Counsel’s Voir Dire in a Court Martial
After the military judge has asked his/her questions of the members, counsel is usually permitted to ask questions. However, neither the UCMJ nor the Manual for Courts-Martial gives the parties the right to individually question members. United States v. Dewrell, 55 M.J. 131, 136 (C.A.A.F. 2001). If the military judge does not allow questions by the parties, the military judge’s questions should be sufficient to expose grounds for challenge. See id. If the military judge allows questions by the parties, trial counsel generally will go first followed by defense counsel.
Military judges tend to require counsel to focus their questions on developing specific areas of potential bias. If necessary, the parties may request to question members individually and out of the presence of the rest of the panel.