Robert Hirschhorn is a jury consultant our firm has employed in the past. He has suggested useful ideas about jury selection. One of his recommendations was to ask the jury these questions, particularly where time is limited for jury selection:
- Describe yourself in a few words
- Tell us several names of people you admire
- Name three people you do not admire or respect
- If you or a loved one were injured by negligence would you sue for the injuries?
Written questions for jurors to fill out is often suggested as a helpful device. Hirschhorn has proposed using a brief questionnaire with a limited number of questions using carbon copy attachments to allow immediate distribution. This would facilitate the jury panel completing the form and promptly distributing it to the lawyers for jury selection.
He suggests that it is not only important to watch out for and search for the “stealth juror,” that is a juror with an agenda that is deliberately concealed during jury selection, as well as for the “Andy Warhol” juror. That’s a juror who has a concealed ambition for 15 minutes of personal fame by their jury verdict.
He recommends looking for companies that can provide social media searching while the jury selection process is taking place. However, in doing so, one should be cautious about violating local court rules or concepts of ethical conduct as viewed by some judges.
He likes to have the intensity of jury feelings framed on a scale of numbers as for example: “On a scale of 0 to 10, with zero being low, how do you feel about – –?”
He recommends framing issues around generally accepted values which would include some of these:
- Doing the right thing
- Guarding the truth
- Following the law
- Hard work and perseverance will eventually triumph
- Honesty will eventually be rewarded
- Americans always come to the aid of the week and the truthful so justice will win in the end
- Simple and ordinary working men and women possess a special ability to recognize the truth
He reminds lawyers that a negative statement in a frame registers with the unconscious mind without the negative denial. Saying for example: “I am not a crook.” Registers with the unconscious mind as “I am a crook.” The response should not be a denial of the original statement. For example, instead of denying a claim that President Obama was a Muslim, the response should be an affirmative: “President Obama is a Christian.” In addition, he notes that reward is a less appealing claim than avoiding loss. Framing and injury in terms of loss rather than in terms of reward for justice is more appealing.
His observation is that generally we should beware of people who have had the same injury experience as our client. They often have learned how to cope with the problem or found that the problem got better over time or resent the fact your client may be paid when they weren’t or even that they feel their injury is a lot worse than your clients.
He correctly observes that a lawyer is fully prepared for trial if they can sell someone what their case is about in one minute.
These are all suggestions worth considering.