Voir dire, at least in the United States, is the way lawyers in a jury trial choose jurors. The jurisdiction (which could be a state, county, city, district, or the federal government) will select a jury pool at random, usually from people registered to vote in that area, and a group of them will be assigned to a case. The judge might ask questions up front that might have a bearing on the case, such as whether a person has done business with the defendant or respondent, whether they know either of the parties, and if there will be a problem if the case runs several weeks. That usually eliminates some members of the pool. Then, each potential juror is called and interviewed by the lawyers, who ask them questions that might reveal a predisposition that could work against them.
I was called for jury duty by the Cobb County Superior Court. Even though I’m disabled and could have gotten out of it, I wanted to do it. On the first day, a couple hundred residents of the county (including me) were sworn in and divided into groups. My group was called to hear a civil case between a homeowner and a builder. As we walked in, the judge and all parties to the suit were standing and facing us. The judge asked us if we knew either the plaintiff or respondent, and also asked if any of us did business with an insurance company that was involved. Those of us who did were told we were eliminated from the pool and we could go home. Had I not been eliminated, the lawyers would have had a chance to ask me questions and to either accept or reject me for the jury.
Most people see jury duty as a huge pain in the ass, and the courthouse wasn’t completely handicapped-friendly, but I felt like my being there was appreciated. The Sixth Amendment guarantees everyone a trial by an impartial jury, and, as they told us when we were sworn in, the county couldn’t guarantee that unless we were there and willing to hear a case. They didn’t need me, as it turns out, but they needed me and everyone else to be there in case they did.
The day my mother-in-law died, she was called to jury duty. They were very understanding when I called and told them she couldn’t make it, and just asked for a holy card from the wake. We had plenty of them, fortunately…