Governor Patrick has signed Chapter 254 of the Acts of 2014. This law opens the door for attorney conducted voir dire in Massachusetts and allows lawyers to state a specific dollar amount of proposed damages during a trial.
This bill represents a cultural shift in Massachusetts. It is the first legislative change involving voir dire in decades. The Court has endorsed the language of the bill and offered to work with the bar on the implementation of the new law. This is a major step forward and a real statement of the importance of voir dire as a tool to address bias in the jury pool.
Although not as widely publicized, the ability to state a dollar amount at trial is also a huge advance for trial lawyers. This change to Superior Court practice will allow for more transparency in trials and remove the artificial obstacle which has left jurors guessing how best to value their verdicts.