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Voir Dire and Jury Selection (Part 2)

Tutorial on the crimes of stalking and harassment for New Mexico judges

Regarding inquiries on domestic violence, they might be relevant in stalking or harassment case voir dire given the potential relationship between stalking or harassment and domestic violence or domestic abuse. This might especially be the case in a stalking or harassment case where the victim and the accused have had some type of interpersonal relationship with one another. However, depending on the alleged facts of the case and argument from the attorneys, the judge could determine that inquiries relating to domestic violence lack relevance in a particular harassment or stalking case. See State v. Martinez, 99 N.M. 353, 357 (1983) (extent of voir dire left to sound discretion of trial court and limited only by essential demands of fairness).

Other voir dire areas of exploration potentially specific to harassment and stalking cases include:

  • For the defense (if the facts suggest the possibility of mistaken or a "questionable" identity of the accused by the victim), inquiry dealing with the panel's views on mistaken identity and whether they or anyone they know has been misidentified in some serious situation.
  • For the defense (if the facts suggest the possibility of improper motives on the part of the victim), inquiry dealing with the panel's views on being wrongfully accused, including whether they, family members, friends or co-workers have been in such a situation or have wrongfully accused another person only to later have discovered the error.
  • For the prosecution (if its case preparation suggests an victim who, regardless of the reason, may recant, downplay what occurred, or "develop" a serious lack of recollection), inquiry exploring the panel's views on and experiences with such situations and how and why they can occur.

Depending on the responses received on the inquiries, the attorneys and/or judge may want to ask follow-up questions to either the entire panel or specific panel members.