You Should Always Attend Jury Selection For Your Personal Injury Case In Connecticut

Once in a long while, I have a client who does not want to attend jury selection for their own case, or who for one reason or another simply cannot attend jury selection.  I am very pleased that this problem occurs very rarely.  The vast majority of people are eager to attend jury selection.  Cases that are normally decided by a jury include personal injury cases, medical malpractice cases, contract cases, employment law cases.  Here are three reasons, you should always attend jury selection as a plaintiff in a personal injury case (or any case) in Connecticut.  

What is individual voir dire, and why is Connecticut state Court jury selection special

First, you should know what "individual voir dire" is, and why it is special.  Individual voir dire is the right to question each prospective juror individually outside the presence of other jurors to ask them questions to confirm that they can be fair to both sides of the case.  The questioning is one-on-one questioning, and it is outside the presense of the other prospective jurors.  Essentially, it is a private interview.  In all other states (other than Connecticut), and in all federal Courts (even in Connecticut) you do not have the right to individual voir dire.  In these other courts, jury selection is done as a group, and in the presence of the judge.  Only in Connecticut state trial level courts can you really explore the individual thoughts of prospective jurors.  This process takes a lot of time (several days, or weeks even), but most trial lawyers believe the time is well worth it especially for complex cases.  It is a right that is unique to the Connecticut state trial level courts.  If you pick a lot of juries, you really learn what regular people think of our civil justice system. 

Three Reasons You Should Aways Attend Jury Selection

Failure to attend jury selection in Connecticut sends the wrong message

First and foremost what does your absense say about how much you care about your own case?  To put it lightly, your absense reflects very poorly on your committment to the case.  It sends the message that you had somewhere else to go that was more important to you.  Also, remember that the prospective jurors have nothing to do with you, or your case at all.  They don't know you at all.  They have taken time out of their day (many times a full day), and have therefore missed out on their personal lives and work lives to attend your jury selection.  They have been greatly inconvenienced.  If you don't even attend jury selection, they will probably hold it against you.  If you don't attend, you better have a great reason that can't be questioned--like "I was giving birth."  In my 20 plus years picking juries, I can only think of a few instances where my client was not present the entire time.  

You learn important information in jury selection

The second reason you should attend jury selection in a personal injury case in Connecticut is that you will gain great insight into how people generally view the main points in your case.  Not the specific facts of your case, but the real important questions.  You will learn that prospective jurors have many different opinions about lawsuits, lawyers, courts, money damages, personal injuries, personal responsibilty, and many other things.  Imagine having your case decided by someone who does not believe in awarding money damages due to religious reasons.  Or someone who was sued by someone else last year in a car crash in New London, Connecticut, and who now believes that all plaintiffs are greedy.  It is one thing for me to tell you that jurors in Connecticut are very conservative, it is another for you to learn it for yourself from the mouth of the person who might decide your case. You should see first hand what potential jururs say about your case, and the civil justice system.  Only by listening first hand to the questions and answers during a Connecticut individual voir dire session can you gain true insight into the minds of your potential jurors.

You provide valuable feedback 

The third reason you should attend jury selection is that your feedback is important.  Your face alone provides useful feedback because it is possible that a prospective juror might not know your name, but knows your face.  They might know you from the coffee shop where you are a regular customer, or from the library--who knows.  But if that person is chosen as a juror on your case, and it turns out that they know you, then they will have to be excused from your case.  You might have to start the whole process over again.  That would be great waste of everyone's time.  Also, during the voir dire questioning your lawyer will likely value your feeback about which jurors to accept or reject on the case.  You can explain to your lawyer why you like this prospective juror or don't feel comfortable with them.  It is your case after all.  Lastly, settlement discussions can occur (and often do) during the jury selection process.  Your presence, obviously facilitates that process, and allows for a more involved settlement discussion.  You will provide feedback as you will accept or reject any offers made to resolve your case, and you will be highly involved in the discussions.

Where to get help and find answers

If you need help with your personal injury case, or any civil case that will be decided by a jury contact the trial lawyers at The Bartinik Law Firm, P.C. toll free at 888-717-4211.  Cases that are normally decided by juries include personal injury cases, medical malpractice cases, contract cases, employment law cases.  We handle cases all over Connecticut, and also Rhode Island.  

Peter J. Bartinik, Jr.
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Civil Trial Attorney, Practicing Law in Connecticut
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