Under CCP 222.5, as most recently amended, the trial court must allow counsel to conduct liberal and probing examination on voir dire and must, on request, allow the parties to present mini-opening statements before voir dire questioning begins.  However, the trial court nevertheless retains discretion to set reasonable limits on the scope of examination during voir dire.  This decision holds that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in this case when, after allowing mini-opening statements to the first venire of jurors called, it banned mini-opening statements before the voir dire of the second and third venires.  It found both from its own observation and remarks by one juror excused from the first venire that the parties, and particularly plaintiff, had used mini-openings to try to precondition jurors to vote in plaintiff’s favor, which is not a permitted purpose of voir dire.  Any prejudice from the ban on mini-opening statements was ameliorated by the judge’s allowing a fairly broad scope to the actual voir dire of the second and third venires, including questions relating to some of the specific facts of the case.

California Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 1 (Johnson, Acting P.J.); October 16, 2018 (published November 15, 2018); 29 Cal. App. 5th 86