Here are a few ideas about jury selection for you to consider. Perhaps something here will be helpful to you.
- After the court has questioned and excused jurors, figure out how many of the panel you should concentrate on. Do that by counting. Count them by including the basic twelve jurors, the number of alternates allowed, then add the number of excuses allowed by the court to all sides, add an arbitrary number for possible excuses for cause and that’s your basic group. Ignore the rest of the panel, until the count changes by additional excused jurors
- Have one sheet of paper with topics you want to cover – simple topics
- Let someone else take notes. Maintain eye contact
- Remember: smile
IDEAS ABOUT JURY SELECTION
- It is a conversation and not an interrogation. Get them talking. You should be talking about 20% of the time and they should be talking 80% or more
- Do not be a lawyer and argue with them. You are there to listen. Let them say whatever they want and you must be non-judgmental. Project credibility by acceptance of whatever they say.
- Your goal is not to convince or to persuade. You want to know values and significant life experiences which you can only find out by getting them to talk among themselves. Pick one juror and then ask what the others think to keep it moving.
Important ideas for conservatives include the following:
(1) Duty owed must be observed
(2) We are responsible for our actions and should be accountable for them
(3) The law should be enforced
(4) We must obey the law whether we agree or not
(5) Reject pleas based upon sympathy – justice, what is right, counts
(6) Family values and the family unit are important
(7) People should be held accountable for what they do
GENERAL JUROR PROFILES
- The following are characteristics of importance:
(1) Leaders – always dangerous. Generally want to avoid as they take over jury. Avoid people with law connection as jurors will look to them for advice.
(2) Authoritarians – people who are deferential to authority will favor doctors, police etc.
(3) People with an axe to grind on any subject
(4) Neutrals – in absence of some other negative factor good jurors
(5) Followers usually can be disregarded but can be conservative
IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT JURORS
- Keep in mind these facts during jury selection:
(1) Once people have taken a firm public stand they are unlikely to change. That means if you get jurors to commit out loud to matters they are very likely to stick to that position. This is important in trying to disqualify a juror.
(2) People search for the rules to guide them in deciding case. What are the rules we are supposed to follow?
(3) Significant past experiences will guide their feelings and opinions now.
(4) Strongly held beliefs and values will trump everything
SUBJECTS TO COVER ON VOIR DIRE
- Discuss the key points in your case. Arrange issues by priority of importance. Cover only the most important issues.
- Search for juror strongly held values, opinions and beliefs
- Search for any significant life experiences that could impact case
- Ask general significant demographic questions, but don’t waste your time with a lot of talk about this topic
POINTS TO COVER ON VOIR DIRE
- reponderance only means more probably true then not (see David Ball)
- We are not after sympathy, but need to show facts to evaluate
- Must follow law agree or not
- Community interest in case
- Damage issues
- discussion phrases include the following: (See David Ball)
- There are two areas I’d like to discuss with you: (1) your important life experiences that might help you decide this case and (2) your opinions about issues in the case
- Some people believe….(all doctors are right all the time) while others believe…..(doctors are human and can make mistakes)….Which way do you lean if only a little?
- Tell us more about that
- Use looping questions: when you get an answer from a juror use that answer in the question to another juror:
(1) Mrs Smith says there are too many lawsuits against doctors, what do you think?
(2) How do you feel about what juror Smith just said that it is important to pass knowledge on?
(3) Let me tell you why I am very glad you said what you did: It takes courage to say that in front of people. Who else on the jury feels the same way?
(4) Some people are uncomfortable about making decisions on a jury that might have an effect on the community. Others are OK with it. Which are you closer to
(5) Some people feel it is a good thing for jury verdicts have an effect on the community. Others disagree. Which are you closer to
(6) Who here would have a problem hearing both sides and deciding which rules you want in this community
(7) Some jurors feel the jury is the guardian of the community. Others are uncomfortable with that idea. Which are you closer to