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Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

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Voir Dire – Ready for Anything and Anybody

By: Luke Gilman | Other Posts by
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Anne Reed at the Deliberations blog has a great post on being Ready For Anything in voir dire.

I thought of that guy when my “jury duty” search picked up this inquiry at one of the forums at Susan’s Place Transgender Resources, “a support resource for the transgender community”:

I have been summoned for jury duty in my old male name. The last two times I was not required to go. I am to check the county web site on the Friday before to see if I am still required to go. It is ironic as I have to report to the courthouse where I plan to file for my name change as soon as I can put together enough cash for the filing fee. Another irony is that my Driver’s license and other photo ID is now in my new name. The only way I have to prove that I am the person in the summons is a letter from my therapist stating my transgender status. I hope that should I have to go to jury duty that they will be discreet about it. I plan to go up to the official and immediately explain my situation. I will go in female mode as I have no male ID now. I did not see this coming!!!!

It’s a pretty good guess that the lawyers who’ll be doing that voir dire didn’t see it coming either. They’re at their desks right now, going over the list of potential jurors, trying to figure out what they can from names, ages, neighborhoods, and occupations. (Every Sunday night I get a surge in searches for sample voir dire questions.) They think they’re ready for Daniel or Thomas or whatever their list says that juror’s name is. But they’re not.

You need to be ready for what you’re not ready for. The juror who tells you she has seventeen cats, the juror who tells you his child was killed, the juror who isn’t a man after all — you can’t botch these moments. Your compassion, your awareness, your intelligence, and your character will be judged on how you handle the next thirty seconds. You need to be at the very least, as the transgender juror hopes, discreet. Warm, engaged, and unfazed would be better.

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2 Responses

  1. Anne Reed says:

    Thanks, Luke — this one was fun to write. Great stuff here lately; thanks for that too.

  2. lukegilman says:

    Thanks for leaving a comment Anne.

    On a similar subject – some folks I’ve talked to who’ve had jury duty in state court recently, mentioned that prosecutors have started to include voir dire questions about how jurors perceive the D.A.s office in the wake of our D.A.’s ‘e-mail-gate’ scandal and subsequent resignation.

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