In addition to handling serious personal injury and product liability cases, Fred Catfish Abbott is an expert consultant and avid speaker on the subject of voir dire. Voir dire is the process in the American legal system by which prospective jurors from the venire, also known as the jury pool, are questioned about their backgrounds, experiences, and opinions on subjects that may relate to the case. The questioning is meant to uncover any potential biases the prospective jurors may have, and enable attorneys to select, or reject, them based on their responses. Potential witnesses, including expert witnesses, are also questioned in the process of voir dire to determine their competency and suitability to testify. The overall purpose of voir dire is to ensure that both parties in any case have the right to trial by an impartial jury, which is afforded to all American citizens by the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution.
With over 160 juries picked, Catfish is considered an authority on voir dire. Catfish has a reputation for his attentiveness to detail throughout the process of voir dire, and because of this he has been hired as an expert consultant on voir dire for trial attorneys around the nation. His attention to detail is evident in the fact that he excels at striking jurors for cause. Strike for cause is the method used in the process of voir dire to eliminate potential members from a jury pool. In many cases, he has had entire jury pools dismissed as unsuitable to sit for the trial.
Over the last 10 years, Catfish has spoken at a number of seminars, teaching the art of jury selection to seasoned trial attorneys. Catfish has given many live demonstrations in which him and another attorney go through the process of voir dire, and give tips and pointers on the subject. Catfish is a regular speaker at Florida Justice Association seminars, and recently, he gave a demonstration of voir dire to attorneys at the Florida Justice Association’s Masters of Justice event. Catfish has also spoken about voir dire at Mass Torts Made Perfect in the past, and through multiple webinars to educate attorneys on how to pick a jury. Catfish firmly believes that voir dire is the most important part of any trial, stating simply, “If both side’s attorneys are equal in ability, the trial is over after the jury is chosen.”