In jury selection, as the plaintiff's trial lawyer, you need adequate time to question prospective jurors about their past experiences and present attitudes. You need this time to discover what each prospective juror's "belief system" is. How the juror sees the world. Remember: a juror sees what he believes. You cannot bank on a juror believing what he is seeing. A juror is likely to filter the evidence and arguments through his belief system and then decide your case. Thus, you must absolutely have sufficient time to explore what the juror's belief system is. This requires that the plaintiff's trial lawyer file a Motion in Limine requesting adequate time to conduct an effective voir dire of jurors.
The Plaintiff's Lawyer Has Burden to Demonstrate Necessary Time Needed for Adequate Voir Dire
In Illinois, the trial judge has the right to manage voir dire under Supreme Court Rule 234. In York v. El-Ganzouri (1st D. 2004) 353 Ill.App.3d 1, the trial judge's limitation of attorney voir dire to 20 minutes in a malpractice case was affirmed. Importantly, the appellate court in York had no choice but to affirm the 20 minute time limitation because the defense attorney who objected to the time limitation never made a record of the type or extent of voir dire questioning necessary to exercise peremptory challenges or prove challenges for cause. The objection was essentially waived. However, it is well-established that limitation of voir dire questioning may constitute reversible error where it denies a fair opportunity to probe an important, relevant area of potential bias among prospective jurors. Gasiorowski v. Homer, 47 Ill.App.3d 989(1st D. 1977
The Plaintiff's Trial Lawyer Should Submit a Well-Organized Proposed Additional Voir Dire in Support of his Request for Time
The lesson of the York case is that the plaintiff's attorney has the burden to demonstrate to the trial judge the necessary subject matters of voir dire inquiry that he needs to time to pursue. When presenting your Motion in Limine for more time, the trial lawyer is advised to prepare and submit well-drafted additional voir dire questions for jurors which establishes a record of the nature, extent and duration of voir dire examination necessary on relevant subject matters. If nothing else, the trial judge will see that you are organized and not likely to waste time.
I have provided on my blog site a link to the following sample Motion in Limine:
PLAINTIFF'S MOTION IN LIMINE RELATING TO TIME, SCOPE AND SUBJECT MATTERS OF ATTORNEY CONDUCTED VOIR DIRE