voir dire

voir dire

[vwahr deer; Fr. vwar deer]

voir dire(Anglo-French; “to speak the truth”)

In law, the act or process of questioning prospective jurors to determine whether they are qualified and suitable for service on a jury. The questioning attorneys may dismiss a juror for cause, such as when bias or preconceived notions of guilt or innocence are in evidence; they also have a limited number of peremptory challenges that they can use to dismiss a juror for any or no reason.

Learn more about voir dire with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Voir dire (IPA ) is a phrase in law which derives from Anglo-Norman.

  • In origin it refers to an oath to tell the truth (Latin verum dicere), in other words to give a true verdict. The word voir (or voire), in this context, is an old French word meaning "truth". It is unconnected with the modern French word voir, which derives from Latin vidēre ("to see"), though the expression is now often interpreted by false etymology to mean "to see [them] say".
  • In the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and sometimes in the US it refers to a "trial within a trial." It is a hearing to determine the admissibility of evidence, or the competency of a witness or juror
  • In the United States, it now generally refers to the process by which prospective jurors are questioned about their backgrounds and potential biases before being chosen to sit on a jury. As Gordon P. Cleary defined voir dire in his book Trial Evidence Foundations (James Publishing, 2007 at section 201), "Voir Dire is the process by which attorneys select, or perhaps more appropriately reject, certain jurors to hear a case."

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