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Litigator’s Playbook
Miss Manners Matters – So Do First Impressions

by Jeri Kagel, M.Ed., J.D.

Voir dire. Anglo-Norman derivation: voir (truth) + dire (speak), or
Voire dire. French derivation: “to speak the truth.”
Voir dire. Legal practice: question/answer.

Attorneys ask questions and veniremembers speak the truth. Based on this definition, the goal of voir dire should be obvious: to seek the truth. However, judges and many attorneys often have another goal for voir dire: to get it done quickly. But giving voir dire short shrift neglects many of the benefits that may be reaped from a thoughtful and well-executed voir dire. Three important goals, which have been discussed and debated over the years, include:

1. Educate: voir dire educates the jury about your case;
2. Eliminate: voir dire uncovers any bias, prejudice, or attitude that could hurt or help your case;
3. Engage: voir dire begins to establish rapport with the jurors.

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Litigator’s Playbook:
Exploring Plays, Plans, Tactics and Strategies

by Jeri Kagel, M.Ed., J.D.

I began writing for the DeKalb Bar newsletter this past fall. I was eager to convey my thoughts, ideas and experiences as a trial consultant to a broad spectrum of attorneys: attorneys who go to trial and those who rarely try a case; attorneys curious about the psychology of their clients and decision-makers (jurors, judges, arbitrators, attorneys and others); attorneys interested in focusing on how different methods of communicating information influence what people learn and understand; attorneys wondering how their practice resonates with their own personal energy, goals and well-being.

As we began 2010, we decided to continue this column and give it an ongoing title. I wanted the title to capture my goals for writing while encouraging people to read my column. I took a month off to let ideas percolate and was lucky enough to meet with my web designer who suggested what you now see in front of you: Litigator’s Playbook.

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