Assistant District Attorney for Brazos County, Ryan Calvert, Offers First Voir Dire Boot Camp to Baylor Law Students

June 8, 2022

Assistant District Attorney for Brazos County, Ryan Calvert, Offers First Voir Dire Boot Camp to Baylor Law Students

Baylor Law Students With Volunteer Faculty at The First-Ever Voir Dire Boot Camp.

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How does a winning trial attorney ensure that the jurors are well-suited to decide the specific case on trial? That is the objective of a successful voir dire—and the aim of ADA Ryan Calvert’s first-ever Voir Dire Boot Camp offered to Baylor Law students in May 2022.

Along with five experienced prosecutors and two sitting judges, Calvert offered the Boot Camp to complement Baylor Law’s successful Criminal Law Boot Camp led by veteran prosecutor Richard Alpert. The Voir Dire Boot Camp instructed future prosecutors and defense counsel on the keys to successful case evaluation, customized voir dire preparation, and how to effectively challenge jurors for cause.

“Everyone’s first voir dire is a train-wreck,” noted ADA Calvert, “I wanted to give the students an opportunity to make some of those “train-wreck” mistakes in the lower-risk environment of a training exercise rather than in a real trial. On Saturday afternoon, we did a performance exercise in which students had to conduct mock voir dire to jury panels comprised largely of community volunteers. What I saw in that exercise showed me that these students are on the way of going out and conducting a voir dire tomorrow, if necessary.”


Voir Dire Boot Camp Faculty

  • Judge Rocky Jones – 203rd Judicial District Court of Dallas County;
  • Judge Susan Piel – Denton County Criminal Court Number 2;
  • Ekua Assabill – Assistant District Attorney, Office of the Attorney General of Texas;
  • Kenda Culpepper – Elected District Attorney, Rockwall County;
  • Cahal McColgan – Assistant District Attorney, Office of the Attorney General of Texas;
  • Beth Toben – Assistant District Attorney, Limestone County;
  • Zack Wavrusa – Assistant District Attorney, Rusk County

On the first day of the Boot Camp, students attended a series of workshops on the basics of jury selection, case evaluation, and challenges for cause. They then heard from Hon. Susan Piel, of Denton County Criminal Court Number 2, and Hon. Raquel “Rocky” Jones, presiding Judge of the 203rd Judicial District Court of Dallas County, about common mistakes that judges see lawyers make in voir dire and how to avoid them.

The second day included workshops on challenges for cause, incorporating persuasive arguments into voir dire, and strategizing voir dire objectives. The day ended with voir dire exercises with personalized critiques from experienced prosecutors. On the final day of the Boot Camp, Calvert introduced students to the intricacies and unique challenges of punishment voir dire.

“My goal was to equip the students to be able to conduct a competent voir dire on day one of their careers,” noted Calvert after the Boot Camp. “Voir dire, like any other skill, takes years of practice to truly master. I want the students to know how to evaluate a case to determine what topics need to be discussed in voir dire and how to approach those topics in a way that becomes a seamless part of their overall persuasive process that unfolds throughout the whole trial.”

The Voir Dire Boot Camp will be offered to Practice Court students during Spring Quarter on an ongoing basis.







MEDIA CONTACT: Ed Nelson, Director of Marketing & Communications
EMAIL: Ed_Nelson@Baylor.edu
PHONE: 254-710-6681


ABOUT BAYLOR LAW
Established in 1857, Baylor University School of Law was one of the first law schools in Texas and one of the first west of the Mississippi River. Accredited by the American Bar Association and a member of the Association of American Law Schools, Baylor Law has more than 7,600 living alumni and a record of producing outstanding lawyers, many of whom decide upon a career in public service. The Law School boasts among its notable alumni two governors, members or former members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, two former directors of the FBI, U.S. ambassadors, federal judges, justices of the Texas Supreme Court and members of the Texas Legislature. In its law specialties rankings, U.S. News & World Report ranks Baylor Law’s trial advocacy program as among the best in the nation at No. 2, while the Law School is ranked in the Top 50 of the 2021 edition of “Best Graduate Schools.” The National Jurist ranks Baylor Law as one of the “Best School for Practical Training,” and in the top 15 “Best Law School Facilities” in the country. The Business Insider places Baylor Law among the top 50 law schools in the nation. Baylor Law received the 2015 American Bar Association Pro Bono Publico Award, making it only the third law school in the nation to be honored with the award since the award’s inception in 1984. Learn more at baylor.edu/law

ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 17,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions. Learn more at baylor.edu

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