“… At one point early on [in jury selection], the [plaintiff’s allegations] were read and [when the judge asked the attorneys to introduce their clients] the defendant stood up and faced us, giving us all an attempt at a friendly smile. My instant thought was ‘he did not do this’; the bleeding-heart liberal me saw him as a victim of racial profiling . . .”
[At a break in the voir dire process, this potential juror saw the plaintiff in the hallway with her kids and her attorney.]
“As I walked out into the hall, the plaintiff was still there. ‘Are they letting you go now?’ she asked me as I walked past. ‘Yes’, I replied, ‘good luck – I would’ve been on your side.’”
This is a statement from an interview of a woman who had been called for jury duty in a 5-day civil case in California. Fortunately, she was excused for cause. Unfortunately, this is a story and lesson I have been preaching for a long time:
- Jurors watch EVERYTHING you and your client do from the moment they lay eyes on you;
- EVERYTHING they see counts towards their ultimate decision for you or against you;
- Jurors make up their minds VERY QUICKLY;
- There are jurors like this person who want to get on the jury to be able to make a statement.
How do you fight these tendencies of jurors?
- Pre-trial research to learn about these potential attitudes within your panel;
- A very well-rehearsed, organized, laser-like voir dire;
- A meaningful witness preparation session (with video feedback) to teach your client about demeanor from the moment they awaken to the moment they drift off to sleep on trial days;
- A well-structured opening story upon which jurors can hang the facts as they unfold.
You trial attorneys certainly navigate tricky waters, don’t you?
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