Voir Dire Law and Legal Definition

Voir dire is a Latin term meaning "to see or speak". Voir dire is a legal procedure conducted before trial in which the attorneys and the judge question of prospective jurors to determine if any juror is biased and/or cannot deal with the issues fairly, or if there is cause not to allow a juror to serve. Some of the reasons a juror might not decide a case fairly include knowledge of the facts, acquaintanceship with parties, witnesses or attorneys, occupation which might lead to bias; prejudice against the death penalty, or previous experiences such as having been sued in a similar case.

The voir dire process allows an attorney to challenge a prospective juror "for cause" if that person says or otherwise expresses a bias against the attorney's case. Each attorney can also exercise a limited number of "peremptory" challenges for which no reason is required. Those individuals who are accepted by both attorneys are impaneled and sworn in as the jury. Voir dire may be directed at the jury pool as a group, asking for a show of hands, or by questioning prospective jurors individually. Voir dire may also be conducted by he judge in some cases.