Attorney Irvin V. Cantor Co-Authors New Article in VTLA Journal
Courtney Sweasy—October 15, 2018
As active trial attorneys within the Richmond legal community, our team here at Breit Cantor Grana Buckner is always looking for ways to contribute more of our time and energy to worthy causes. In the legal field, one of the most vital ways we can contribute is through publication. By writing articles for academic journals, lawyers can share best practices and legal interpretations with one another, and ultimately shape the course of legal theory for years to come.
To that end, our personal injury attorney and firm partner Irvin V. Cantor recently co-authored an article with fellow Richmond lawyer Ryan T. Walker. Titled “The Art of Voir Dire,” the article has been published in The Journal of the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association (VTLA), and it explores the importance of performing effective voir dire during the pre-trial process. It also provides a clear framework for how to build rapport with prospective jurors during a trial.
The Importance of Voir Dire and Jury Selection in Trial Litigation
Voir dire is a French term meaning “to see to speak,” although colloquially it is taken to mean “to see and hear the truth.” In the American legal system, it is known as the process by which lawyers can identify latent bias in their prospective jurors, make a strong impression on the jury, and ensure that their client’s rights to a fair trial are protected.
As Cantor and Walker explain in their article, the Virginia Legal Code gives both parties in a case the “absolute right” to conduct voir dire. Often the judge and counsel are at odds throughout this process, as the court process lends itself more to expediency than to intensive questioning – and the definition of “absolute right” does not mean that legal counsel can individually question any juror as they like.
However, voir dire is still considered a cornerstone of the trial process, and it’s one that a judge must legally allow to proceed if relevant. According to Cantor and Walker, focus group testing showed that prospective jurors are actually happy to assist in the process of voir dire, as long as the questions asked by counsel are pertinent to the case. In fact, contrary to popular belief, jurors are more inclined to believe in the competency of lawyers who engage in rigorous and down-to-earth dialogue with them.
Finally, Cantor and Walker describe some of the best ways lawyers can perform voir dire and earn the respect of their juries. They recommend that legal counsel not shy away from the more personal aspects of the topics at hand, but rather ask honest, direct, and insightful questions without any pretense, as this will be best received.
Experienced Trial Attorneys in Richmond, VA
With more than 1,750 favorable verdicts won for his clients, Attorney Irvin V. Cantor is a force to be reckoned with in the Richmond legal community, and a tireless advocate for the injured throughout the state of Virginia. At Cantor Stoneburner Ford Grana & Buckner, our entire legal team acknowledges his contributions as a firm partner and as a leading civil trial lawyer.
By Courtney Sweasy