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When to name a number

Virginia p.i. lawyers have some leeway on when to name a number to a jury.

Some lawyers like to name a dollar figure during voir dire, testing potential jurors for sticker shock over a high-dollar ad damnum.

Newport News lawyer Duncan Garnett thinks “the jury should be told as often as possible,” but he says courts vary on whether a jury can hear the amount sought during voir dire.

Richmond lawyer Tom Williamson said “we all agree at some point you need to tell the jury what you want” because jurors want guidance. But he prefers to defer.

You only have to tell them once, Williamson said. “You don’t have to browbeat” them.

Garnett and Williamson debated the point at Friday’s annual meeting of the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association in Williamsburg.

They reached consensus on one point: Make sure you know how the local judge pronounces “voir dire.”
Deborah Elkins

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