“Do You Hate Me” Found to Be Useful Voir Dire Question

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Things appear to be going quite pleasantly in the latest celebrity legal proceeding, namely the civil wrongful-death case against Robert Blake.  This of course follows Blake’s acquittal on charges of murdering his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, after deploying the ironclad alibi "I was on my way to get my gun when the victim was shot."  The wrongful-death case has been filed on behalf of Bakley’s children.

Voir dire was conducted Monday and Tuesday, and according to CNN an "unusually acrimonious tone" developed from the outset.  Responding to questions from plaintiffs’ attorney Eric Dubin, one prospective juror announced "I have a rather highly tuned [expletive deleted by CNN, but believed to be "bullshit"] detector and it’s been going off big time since you started . . . If I were sitting next to you, I would not want you to be representing me."

"Wow," said Dubin, who "appeared taken aback."  But he quickly rallied and followed up with, "Do you think your dislike for me could affect the children I represent?"  "No," lied the man.  Which led to a further followup question that I think most attorneys would hope not to ask during their entire legal career: "Have you ever hated a lawyer as much as me?"

"No," the man said.  He was excused.

The same prospective juror also claimed that the suit was a "second swing at Mr. Blake," which it is, although he did not explain why he thought that was necessarily illegitimate; and also that Blake was being deprived of the right to "confront his accusers," apparently because the plaintiffs were not in the courtroom for voir dire, which makes no sense.  Several other prospective jurors were excused after objecting that the civil trial was "double jeopardy," which it isn’t.

Maybe repeated marathon viewings of "Law and Order" and "C.S.I." are not helping where the jury system is concerned.  People seem to be learning just enough to be dangerous.