Voir dire (English pronunciation: vwɑr diər) that which is true. Voir dire is a phrase adopted by the United States legal system and refers to the process of jury member selection (or more appropriately rejection) based off of an individual’s background and potential biases. In origin, it refers to an oath to tell the truth (Latin verum dicere), i.e., to say what is true, what is objectively accurate or subjectively honest in content, or both.
I was recently canoeing across Jenny Lake in the Tetons and my good friend Ian Loyd, who is a public defender in New Mexico, and he was explaining the process of voir dire as it pertains to the United States legal system. He explained that maneuvering this process is an art form; it takes years of practice, often an entire career, to truly perfect.
Voir dire also pertains to our daily lives. We are constantly exercising our internal jury to sift through our thoughts, actions, and reactions. This would be fine if we learned how to hone our voir dire skills and to create a well-vetted internal jury. However, I find that in my own mind I am often too quick to judge myself or a situation I am in. For example, when particular circumstances arise in our lives, we react in a certain way, and we truly believe that our reaction is based on the fullness of our experience…then a few days pass, and we realize that we were actually reacting to a completely separate event and that the original experience was simply a trigger. Imagine if we could see that complete reality first, in every moment. An extreme evolution. It all comes down to the internal jury…seems to be something worth exploring.
I’ll see you in court.
Joshua Scott Onysko