Wilks v. BNSF Railway Company
ORDER by Magistrate Judge Kimberly E. West denying 227 Motion to submit jury questionnaire. (adw, Deputy Clerk)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
EASTERN DISTRICT OF OKLAHOMA
BNSF RAILWAY COMPANY,
Case No. CIV-18-080-KEW
O R D E R
This matter comes before the Court on Defendant’s Motion to
Submit Jury Questionnaire (Docket Entry #227).
Railway Company (“BNSF”) proposes that a jury questionnaire be
questionnaire to the motion, stating that BNSF and Plaintiff have
“Voir dire examination serves the dual purposes of enabling
the court to select an impartial jury and assisting counsel in
exercising peremptory challenges.” Mu'Min v. Virginia, 500 U.S.
415, 431 (1991).
“Because the obligation to impanel an impartial
jury lies in the first instance with the trial judge, and because
he must rely largely on his immediate perceptions, federal judges
have been accorded ample discretion in determining how best to
conduct the voir dire.”
Rosales-Lopez v. United States, 451 U.S.
182, 189 (1981).
The Tenth Circuit has emphasized “[t]he scope of
voir dire examination is a matter within the sound discretion of
the trial judge and will not be disturbed on appeal absent a clear
showing of abuse of discretion.” United States v. Espinosa, 771
F.2d 1382, 1405 (10th Cir. 1995).
This Court does not routinely use jury questionnaires aside
for that which is provided in every jury case – primarily to
determine jury qualification.
The appropriate case could warrant
the distribution of a jury questionnaire when the issues presented
are unique or entail a particularly unusual or inflammatory matter.
This is not such a case.
The issues for trial are relatively
straightforward and do not require the kind of unusual inquiry
which a jury questionnaire provides.
The vast majority of the
questions proposed by the parties are the routine matters addressed
during verbal voir dire in the courtroom.
That typical practice
is sufficient to address the matters pertinent to seating a jury.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Defendant’s Motion to Submit
Jury Questionnaire (Docket Entry #227) is hereby DENIED.
IT IS SO ORDERED this 31st day of March, 2021.
KIMBERLY E. WEST
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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