Back to All Articles

Author: Ed Leonard

Last Updated March 4, 2024

Top 10 Voir Dire Questions to Detect and Dismiss Nuclear Jurors

When it comes time to pick a jury, it is critical to find jurors who are open-minded towards the corporate defendant and may be less likely to award a Nuclear Verdict®. While any juror can go nuclear if the defense fails to defuse juror anger, there is no doubt some jurors are more prone to nuclear detonation! But, how do you find them in the limited time available during voir dire? Ask them the right questions!


  1. Ask jurors why the plaintiff’s lawyer is using words like “crash”? Why did plaintiff’s counsel choose that word over “accidents”?

Tip: If jurors react poorly to this question, it tells you they are buying into plaintiff’s schtick! They are mad already – imagine how mad they will be after sitting through days of tactics designed to induce anger!

  1. What does “reasonable compensation” mean to you? Is there a bonus involved? You are being asked to give away other people’s money – what do you think about that?

Tip: This helps you test the waters and see if they’re willing to go “above and beyond” to help plaintiff – and that is not something you want. How do they react to giving away someone else’s money? Do they seem like they are ready to go on an all-expenses paid shopping spree? If so, thank and excuse them, pronto!

  1. Have you ever been asked how much money you will take to start a new job? Didn’t you ask for a great deal of money and let the boss say no? Isn’t that how negotiations usually go: ask for more and take a lot less?

Tip: Are your jurors amenable to negotiations? You want someone who is willing to hear you out and who is ready to negotiate rather than fork over whatever number plaintiff’s counsel says!

  1. Have you ever had as much as $100,000 to spend just on yourself? $100,000 is a lot of money, isn’t it? A million is 10 times that! Who has that kind of money?

Tip: How are your jurors reacting to this? Anyone seem to think $100,000 is not  that big of a deal here – either because they have money or because they are already set in their mindset of “the corporation must pay”? If so, they are desensitized to the value of a dollar and/or they do not like you! Read: they will detonate!

  1. Future damages MUST be reasonably certain to happen. What does “reasonably certain” mean to you? More than probable, right? Not just possible?

Tip: This is another one of those questions that should tip you off – do any of these jurors want to give that plaintiff money, no matter what? Do they think plaintiff deserves it for what they went through, even if that is not the kind of damages they are evaluating? Basically – can they be reasonable? If the answer is anything close to “no,” they are already circling the danger zone. Get them outta there!

  1. Have you heard of any studies where someone followed up on jury verdicts to check if the money was spent the way the jury was asked to award it? Would it surprise you to find out that such studies are not done?

Tip: How does that make them feel? Is anyone strongly opposed to surveying plaintiffs? Why?

Pro tip: This is one of those questions that does double-duty: it lets you sniff out the dangerous jurors while educating the rest of the bunch. Win/win!

  1. Do you make your best decisions when angry? Why would someone want to get you angry as a trial juror?

Tip: If someone responds to this with anger, you know the plaintiff has already gotten to them. Look for someone who can articulate why anger is dangerous. The more they understand that anger overrides rationality, the better they are as a juror!

  1. What does “reasonable” mean to you? Can you give me examples of unreasonable conduct? Would you consider yourself to be reasonable, and to have common sense?

Tip: Your answers on this one will run the gamut. Look for people who hyperbolize and think about how that could play out in your case. Do you want someone who takes offense at the smallest thing to be judging a plaintiff’s injury? The second part of the question allows you to start getting the jurors to think about the accountability they owe you in the jury deliberation room, also. We do not expect jurors to check their common sense at the door! You want them to bring it with them into the deliberation room, and to feel empowered to remind each other if it starts flying out the window when they start deliberating!

  1. What do you think of people trying to manipulate you to do something you otherwise would not think about doing?

Tip: Your ideal juror is going to hate the idea of this – maybe enough to make them take charge during deliberations and point out what plaintiff’s counsel is doing. If a juror thinks they can’t be manipulated or already shows a bias towards plaintiff here, you probably do not want them on your jury.

  1. If we can compensate someone for their injuries, make them whole, how do you determine the value of pain and suffering? Is it just what some lawyer suggests or are you looking for a more reasoned, thoughtful analysis?

Tip: Look out for jurors’ answers here. Nuclear jurors are not going to want a reasoned, thoughtful analysis. Some nuclear jurors might appear reasonable, though – they might say that’s what they are looking for, but you can still weed them out by interpreting their body language and nonverbal responses. Do they seem closed-off? Does the answer feel genuine? Have they answered any of these questions “wrong” and left you on the fence? If so, you have a potential nuclear juror on your hands.

Since picking your jury is the first critical stage in trial, you must use the opportunity to learn as much as you can about the venire, with an eye toward how they will respond to plaintiff’s tactics aimed at generating anger. Jury selection can feel like the world’s worst speed-dating show, but we have to make the most of the time with strategic and tactical questions. Using all four Nuclear Verdicts® defense methods (accept responsibility, personalize the corporate defendant, give a number, and argue pain and suffering) is critical to your success, but choosing a jury more prone to nuclear detonation puts you behind the eight-ball. Set yourself up for success by asking your jurors these ten questions to get as much information as you can so you can detect and dismiss those jurors who will not deliver justice for all.