Verdict - Spring 2018 - 29

> FEATURE

Leading the Jury
Down the Right Path
Framing Your Case During Voir Dire
BY LLOYD N. BELL, BELL LAW FIRM

oir dire is the single

it must be a principle that has near universal

you need to intelligently exercise peremptory

most important phase

application to society.

strikes, e.g. prior experience with lawsuits,

of trial, followed closely

As I will use the term in this discussion,

past dealings with defendant corporation,

by opening statement.

framing is the deliberate emotional struc-

etc., but also to test the emotional responses

Without an open and honest

ture that you erect around the facts of your

of jurors to the questions so you can evaluate

jury that is emotionally avail-

case. For example, imagine visiting your cli-

their suitability as jurors in your case. Equally

able and willing to receive your case, the

ent at their home. You walk into their living

important, framing during voir dire condi-

likelihood of obtaining a favorable verdict

room, sit down on the sofa and see a framed

tions your favorable jurors to be receptive

is almost non-existent. But identifying your

photograph of their son in his Army uniform.

to the larger case frames that Mr. Mandell

favorable jurors and striking those whom you

Your emotional response might be admira-

discuses in his book and that we will touch

determine are hostile to your case and/or

tion, respect, personal connection if you or a

on in a moment.

client is only part of the goal of voir dire. The

family member are prior service, or a myriad

following discussion will address the process

of other possible, likely positive, emotions.

HOW DO YOU FRAME

of "framing" your case through your voir dire

Now imagine you see the same photograph

THE JURY IN VOIR DIRE?

questions to a) help reveal the favorable and

at your client's home, but it is framed with a

Before addressing how an effective plain-

unfavorable jurors, and b) set the favorable

neatly folded American flag in the shape of a

tiff's lawyer frames the jury, it is important

jurors on a cognitive path that most closely

triangle, with an engraved, bronze plaque at

to recognize that experienced defense coun-

aligns with the values of your case and puts

the bottom that says: "1988-2014: Iraq." You

sel also attempt to frame the jury against the

you in the best position to obtain a just verdict.

realize that your client has suffered the death

plaintiff. How many times have we heard

of their son. Your entire emotional response

defense counsel ask some version of this

to the photograph changes. In this extreme

question: How many people think that just

WHAT IS "FRAMING"?

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2

The term "framing" gets thrown around a

example, the literal framing of the photograph

because a plaintiff has filed a lawsuit, she is

lot by trial commentators and means differ-

provides the emotional context by which

entitled to get some money? By asking this

ent things to different people. Framing has

you perceive the image.

seemingly innocuous question, defense coun-

been used interchangeably with words such

Framing during jury selection is the care-

sel is communicating several negative case

as "heuristic," "schema," and "theme." In his

ful and deliberate choice of questions that

frames. Defense counsel misleadingly frames

book, Case Framing, Rhode Island trial law-

will not only reveal the factual information

the jury to believe that the relatively simple act

yer Mark Mandell succinctly describes a case

of filing the lawsuit is the trigger "entitling"

frame as "the fundamental principle that gives

plaintiff to "money." More accurately, the

meaning to a case." He identifies two essen-

defendant's negligence that caused the injury

tial qualities of a case frame. First, it must be

is what places the obligation on the defendant

relevant to the facts of the case, and second,

to pay money damages. Injecting the words

1

Spring 2018 29


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Verdict - Spring 2018

President’s Message
How I Obtained Justice: Sudden Emergency Doctrine
Thank You to Outgoing Verdict Chairman, Madeleine Simmons
Look Before You Leap: Conducting Jury Focus Groups Before Trial
Voir Dire In Low Speed, Soft Tissue Injury Cases
Defeating Reptile Theory Motions in Limine
Leading the Jury Down the Right Path: Framing Your Case During Voir Dire
Hernandez v. State: Empowering Jurors to Seek the Truth
Exploding Takata Airbags From Cover-Up To Accountability
Using Simple Technology to Pick a Better Jury
Case Updates: Who Really Loses When Medical Funding Becomes an Issue at Trial?
Professional Practice Pointers: Voir Dire, An interview with Cobb County State Court Judge Allison Barnes Salter
Dig In To Do Good: Making the World a Better Place
Welcome New GTLA Members!
Champion Members
Meet The Experts
Index to Advertisers/Advertiser.com
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Intro
Verdict - Spring 2018 - bellyband1
Verdict - Spring 2018 - bellyband2
Verdict - Spring 2018 - cover1
Verdict - Spring 2018 - cover2
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 3
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 4
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 5
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 6
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 7
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 8
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 9
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 10
Verdict - Spring 2018 - President’s Message
Verdict - Spring 2018 - How I Obtained Justice: Sudden Emergency Doctrine
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 13
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 14
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Thank You to Outgoing Verdict Chairman, Madeleine Simmons
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Look Before You Leap: Conducting Jury Focus Groups Before Trial
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 17
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 18
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 19
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 20
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Voir Dire In Low Speed, Soft Tissue Injury Cases
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 22
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 23
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 24
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 25
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Defeating Reptile Theory Motions in Limine
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 27
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 28
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Leading the Jury Down the Right Path: Framing Your Case During Voir Dire
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 30
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Hernandez v. State: Empowering Jurors to Seek the Truth
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 32
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 33
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Exploding Takata Airbags From Cover-Up To Accountability
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 35
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 36
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Using Simple Technology to Pick a Better Jury
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Case Updates: Who Really Loses When Medical Funding Becomes an Issue at Trial?
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 39
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Professional Practice Pointers: Voir Dire, An interview with Cobb County State Court Judge Allison Barnes Salter
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Dig In To Do Good: Making the World a Better Place
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 42
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Champion Members
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 44
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Meet The Experts
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Index to Advertisers/Advertiser.com
Verdict - Spring 2018 - cover3
Verdict - Spring 2018 - cover4
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