A recent ruling by the Supreme Court of the State of Alabama has illustrated the folly of asking potential jurors who would be willing to sit on a case for a few weeks or longer. During the initial jury proceedings of Ford Motor Co. v. Duckett, the trial judge asked all potential jurors if they could serve in a case lasting three or four weeks. Even though the people asked were all part of the approved jury pool, the Supreme Court still found that this violated Alabama jury selection processes, and on appeal reversed the multimillion dollar plaintiff ruling.
The initial query for volunteer jurors might have been initially construed as a positive consideration to help weed out those that could not commit to a long trial, but unfortunately is against proper procedure. The onus is on all parties involved to not commit such a reversible error; for the plaintiff attorneys to know and interpret similar California laws; for defense lawyers to be aware of such an instance and challenge it immediately; and for judges to recognize when such an error occurs and correct it before the case can proceed.
Word to the wise for all California plaintiff attorneys that encounter products liability, medical negligence, or other complicated trials to be aware this small point of procedure can have dire consequences if ignored.