The Dos and Dont’s of Jury Selection

I do not claim to be an expert in jury selection. I am not sure how anyone could be a validated expert. It is impossible to know what might have happened with the jurors you got rid of, and therefore, impossible to know how well you selected a jury.

However, I think from experience we can all offer some Dos and Don’ts. Here are some I have learned the hard way:

Don’t assume someone who shares your client’s interest or traits will protect them. I represented a lady who was hurt riding a motorcycle with her husband. They could not ride together anymore. A nice lady on my jury shared the same interest, and she was roughly the same age as my client. She must be good for me? Wrong. After trial, it occurred to me that she would have to blame my clients, otherwise she could no longer ride with her husband and feel safe.

Don’t get rid of conservatives automatically. Conservatives are rule followers. I have seen on conservative after another lead a jury to a plaintiff verdict.

Don’t single out the first person to give you some information or try to convince them to change their mind.

Do learn to listen instead of thinking of your next “brilliant” question.

Don’t ask about personal feelings right off the bat.

Don’t try to win your case.

Do give a little foreshadowing or a cliff hanger when you have the chance-“You are going to hear some facts in opening that will help you understand exactly why we are here and why we filed this suit.”

Don’t try to change someone’s mind.

Don’t trust someone who obviously wants to be on your jury.

Don’t forget to visit with every juror on the panel.

Don’t mispronounce names.

Do watch jurors’ reactions to other people’s statements. People are more likely to show you how they really feel when they are not in the spotlight.

Don’t do it alone- have someone else take notes and watch the jurors you are not talking to.

Do look at jurors when you are talking to them and when they are talking to you.

Do look jurors in the eyes.

Don’t look jurors in the eyes too long.

Don’t start a question with “Why.” Questions starting with “Why” almost always sound judgmental.

Don’t ask juror to commit to anything.

Do not memorize things or follow a script in jury selection, or any other time in trial.

Send me your Do’s and Don’ts for part two.

By Aaron Broussard – Louisiana Advocates, February 2017

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