Voir Dire Skills – Part I:
Preparing Yourself – “Working on the Horse”

Thursday, January 19, 2017
MAJ Center for Legal Education

6.0 MN CLE Credits requested

Gary M. Hazelton, Course Chair


Within moments of questioning jurors in voir dire you become the teller of the case story in the Opening Statement.  Whether jurors associate into and experience that story or just sit there dispassionately depends on whether jury selection has left them with a sense of safety with and trust in you. You can learn to create that trusted sense.

In this first segment of the Trial Skills series we will begin with an overview of each module that will be part of the series and then turn to learning about and practicing the skills of connecting and interacting with jurors to build their trust.

You don’t get a second chance at first impressions.  Human interaction is a skill. As with all skills, knowing what to practice and then practicing is what yields competence. You will get real-time feedback during practice sessions, experiment with new ways, make adjustments, and dramatically improve.  Failure is not in our vocabulary – Supportive feedback and learning as teammates is what you will experience.

Although Part I & Part II are labeled “Voir Dire Skills” what we learn and begin to practice are in fact foundational skills that are used in every other phase of a trial.

Please Join us and start the Journey.

Voir Dire Skills – Part I Schedule: Today it is all about you


8:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.
Registration & Continental Breakfast

9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Overview & Explanation of the Trial Skills Series

Gary M. Hazelton, Hazelton Law Firm, PLLC 

10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Discussion, Guided Exercises, Demonstrations

Gary M. Hazelton, Hazelton Law Firm, PLLC 

12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.

1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Small Group Guided Practice Session

4:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Large Group – Recap & Preview of Part II
Take Home Exercises & Forming Practice Groups


Upcoming Trial Skills Series Segments & Topics:

All Sessions will involve an explanation of theory, introduction to models and methods and a three hour “on your feet” guided practice sessions in a small group setting.

Voir Dire Part II – Crafting Voir Dire to Achieve an Outcome – February 16, 2017

  • Choosing Jury Selection Topics with a Purpose in Mind
  • Crafting a path to a Desired Outcome
  • How to Set Frames of Reference
  • Why Understanding Belief Formation & Structure is the Key
  • How Language Models Provide a Structure to Explore Beliefs
  • Pacing and Language Softeners – Controlling the “Feel”
  • Vocal Tone: Making a Question a Question
  • Conversationally Reframing a Belief
  • Use of Experiential Methods in Jury Selection
  • Handling the Tough Issues
  • How to Avoid Getting Trapped into Negotiating with Jurors
  • Laboratory Practice Session in Small Groups

Discovering the Story – Case Brainstorming in Action – March 16, 2017

  • Learning the Tools of Exploration via Reenactment
  • Using the Results to Craft Discover to Shape the Trial Story
  • Discovering and Experiencing our Client’s Story
  • Re-Discovering the Story – Round 2
  • Laboratory Practice Session in Small Groups

Story Crafting Methods - TBD

  • Understanding How Stories Shape Decisions & Why
  • Understanding Story Structure as an “Argument”
  • Pre-Framing – Setting the Perceptual Position for the Story
  • Framing the Story and Each “Scene”
  • Choosing when to use Narrative, Scene, Dialogue
  • Choosing the Emotionally Impactful Scenes
  • Pacing the Story
  • Characterizing the “Actors”
  • Crafting a Role, Function, and Output for Each Witness
  • Crafting so Jurors to Reach their Own Conclusions
  • Understanding “Source Confusion” & “Law of the Case” Effects
  • Using Sensory Details to Communicate Implicitly
  • Using Metaphor & Analogy
  • Practice Session in Groups Putting Together a Case Story

Storytelling Skills - TBD

  • Effect of the Storyteller on the Story Listener – “Going First”
  • Making the Case Story play like a “Movie” in the Jurors’ Minds
  • Using First Person – Seamlessly Transitioning
  • Delivering Dialogue
  • Setting Scenes
  • When to use eye contact and when not to
  • Using Space in the Courtroom for a Purpose
  • Use of Gesture and Spatial Anchors for a Purpose
  • Practice Session – Delivering Stories in Small Groups

Opening Statement Workshop – TBD

  • Using the Story Crafting and Storytelling Skills we will as a collaborative process craft and practice delivering Opening Statement segments with full group input and participation until we have it perfected    


Putting the Skills Together – Part I - TBD

  • Direct Examination to Create a “Felt Sense” in the Jurors
    • Your Role in Creating the “Mood”
    • Reenactments in the Courtroom
    • Reenactments from the Witness Stand
    • Setting Scenes without the Awkwardness
      • Present Simple / Present Continuous Method
  • Expert Direct Examination to Create a Learning Experience
    • Creating Juror “Identification” with the Expert
    • Using the Role, Function, Output Model
    • 1st Person Experiential Method
  • Direct Examination Practice & Experiment Session

Putting the Skills Together – Part II – TBD

  • Cross-Examination of Lay Witnesses
    • Telling the Trial Story on Cross
    • Soft-Cross or Hard Cross?
    • Eye Contact and Directing Jurors’ Attention
    • Implicitly Characterizing Witness on Cross
  • Cross-Examination of Experts
    • Same as Above PLUS
    • Reframing the Expert’s Frames
      • Disc Disease to Normal Disc for Age
    • Using Meta-Model Questions to Demand Specificity
      • Learning to Listen for Linguistic Violations
      • Challenging, Generalizations, Deletions, Distortions
  • Practice Session for Lay & Expert Cross-Examination

Putting the Skills Together – Part III - Closing Argument

  • Ways to Structure the Closing
  • Appealing to Higher Values
  • Stories, Metaphors, Analogies
  • Making “it” Larger than this Case
  • Conditioning Jurors to Feel they have made the Right Decision
  • Future Pacing the Right Decision


Congratulations to our members named 2017 Attorneys of the Year by Minnesota Lawyer!

Stephanie Ball, Fryberger, Buchanan, Smith & Frederick, P.A.Matthew Barber, Schwebel, Goetz & Sieben, P.A.; Robert Bennett, Gaskins Bennett Birrell Schupp LLP;  Michael Ciresi, Ciresi Conlin LLP; Elizabeth Fors, Robins Kaplan LLP; Cortney Leneave, Hunegs, LeNeave & Kvas, P.A.; Chris Messerly, Robins Kaplan LLP; Andrea Niesen, Klampe, Delehanty & Pasternak, LLC; Alicia Sieben, Schwebel, Goetz & Sieben, P.A.; Willaim Sieben; Schwebel, Goetz & Sieben, P.A.

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MAJ offers valuable benefits for all levels of membership, whether you are a plaintiff's attorney, legal staff, law student or other associate member, to assist you in the ultimate goal of achieving justice for clients.

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