Lsu Law Center Voir Dire Hypothetical

Lsu Law Center Voir Dire Hypothetical


You represent a 22-year-old white male named Tacoma Smith accused of the 2nd Degree Murder of John Breyer. Tacoma on has no prior criminal record. He has a high school education and works in the local plants.

It is alleged that on March 22, 2014 Tacoma and his girlfriend, Lisa, were scheduled to have a double date with Lisa’s friend Tammy and her boyfriend. Tammy’s boyfriend was John Breyer. They were scheduled to meet at the LSU Chimes restaurant. Everyone met at the Chimes at the prearranged time except for John. John in fact never showed up to dinner. Tammy called John and John was obviously intoxicated and drinking at his house. Tammy also had been drinking and asked Tacoma and Lisa to bring her over to John’s house so that she could confront him on not showing up.

When they arrive at John’s house, John is noticeably intoxicated and is on his porch sitting with another woman. Tammy get’s out of Tacoma’s car and immediately starts yelling at John and the Woman. It is of note that John and Tammy are both African-American. Tacoma is sitting in his car and roles down his window in an attempt to defuse the situation. John comes over to his car and starts yelling at Tacoma. Witnesses will say that John screams, “Mind your own business” at Tacoma. Neighbors come out of their houses due to this. Witnesses behind John (who cannot see Tacoma in the front seat) later tell police that they did not see John hitting Tacoma. Witnesses on the opposite side of the vehicle see the two struggling.

Tacoma will later tell the police that John started hitting him in the face while he's in the front seat. Tacoma grabs a gun that he keeps in the side panel of the front door. He warns John to stop hitting him. All witnesses agree that Tacoma was screaming for John to get away from the door. Shots are fired from inside the car door. Tacoma then flees from the scene. Witnesses will later identify Tacoma as the shooter. Witnesses give police different stories as to whether or not John was hitting Tacoma. One witness says that it looked like John had a gun.

When police initially interrogate Tacoma he denies even being at John’s house. After several hours of interrogation he ultimately admits to shooting John. Tacoma is never asked by the police about the presence of another gun nor does he say that he thought John had a weapon. Photographs of Tacoma’s face after the incident show bruising but no lacerations. Autopsy of John will show a blood alcohol content of .06 and a toxicology report shows the presence of marijuana.

Some individuals interviewed in the media have called this a race-based crime. Tacoma has told you that he is afraid of testifying at his trial and doesn’t want to testify.