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Jeb Brovsky New York City Jersey • Absender: zhangwl, 14.11.2016 07:47

Its a big trialseven figures at stake. Its time for jury selection and Im in the courtroom with my client attorney.

The attorney asks who knows the parties. He asks if anyone knows the attorneys. He asks if anyone has been involved in a similar business dispute. He follows up by asking whether anything about that experience would prevent the juror from being fair and impartial in this case.

Then he turns to me and asks Mehdi Ballouchy New York City Jersey , Okay, who do we want?

Well gosh, I dont know. I havent learned a thing about any of these folks.

Ive watched dozens of attorneys do voir dire and for the more often than not, I see it done badly. Im not sure if voir dire and jury selection strategy are routinely taught as part of trial advocacy programs in our nations law schools or not; if they are, theyre not being taught well.

And as Ive grimaced my way through bad voir dire after bad voir dire, Ive come to realize that the main reason for bad voir dire comes down to one word: fear.

WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF?

It seems that attorneys are afraid of three things when they stand up to speak to prospective jurors in voir dire:
1. Fear of losing control;
2. Fear of a juror poisoning the panel;
3. Fear of jurors actually talking.

So in response to these fears Kwame Watson-Siriboe New York City Jersey , I see attorneys make these same three mistakes over and over:
1. Talking too much; (and thus listening too little);
2. Not asking the tough questions;
3. Not following up enough.

CALMING THE FEAR

Heres the thing: just because someone says something bad about your client, doesnt mean that everyone else in the room will automatically agree with it. Now, if some members of the panel think ill of your client because hes Muslim, or because she was the second wife of a wealthy decedent or he did inhale, wouldnt you want to know about it before the trial, instead of after?

And what if most everyone does agree with something bad a prospective juror says about your client? GREAT! BREAK THE PANEL!! There are more jurors where those came from Kwadwo Poku New York City Jersey , and if there arent, youve got a mistrial motion. That might not be an appetizing prospect if youre, say, plaintiffs counsel and youve got a lot invested in the case, but what is more unappetizing is being poured out on the table by a panel of jurors who dont like your client and you didnt know it.

HOW TO FIX IT

1. In preparing for jury selection, first develop a fear listwhat are the vulnerabilities of your case Khiry Shelton New York City Jersey , of your client?
2. From the fear list, develop voir dire questions that will ferret out unfriendly attitudes.
3. Be willing to ask the tough questions; there are ways to ask them gently (Is there anyone on the panel who is a bigot? usually doesnt generate a lot of response), but you have to get it out there. And DONT ask it this way: Will anyone here hold it against my client because she was the second wife of a wealthy decedent? You need to discover their attitudes about family disputes, their experiences with stepparents, their beliefs about the motivations of people when they are called upon to share an inheritance. Once you get to those attitudes, youll reveal the folks who wont like your client because shes the second wife.
4. Follow up with open ended questions: Tell us more about that? Tell us why you feel that way? How long have you felt this way? (Note: How long have you felt this way is a great question that can seal off the juror from attempted rehabilitation by opposing counsel or by the judge. If you can demonstrate a long-held belief it makes your challenge for cause more compelling)
5. Ask if other jurors agree with the unfriendly juror and let them speak their minds Josh Saunders New York City Jersey , too.
6. Most importantly, as my colleague David Ball says, Shut Up and Listen.
Now hopefully before you ever enter the courtroom youve done some pre-trial research (mock trial, focus group) and have had a chance to develop a profile of favorable and unfavorable juror characteristicsdemographic, experiential and attitudinal. Doing the research ahead of time does wonders to reduce uncertainty.

Ultimately, its okay to cede some control during the voir dire process. Itll help build rapport with the jurors and it will get you where you need to go in terms of finding out who is on your panel. Still worried about losing control? Focus on self-control: listening without arguing or persuading. As the ancient Chinese book of wisdom Jefferson Mena New York City Jersey , the Tao Te Ching says,
He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still.

Author's Resource Box


Bob Gerchen is a nationally-known jury consultant and author who helps lawyers communicate with people who dont have law degrees through consulting, books, articles, a newsletter and seminars. His Courtroom Presentation Tips newsletter (http:www.winmorecases) offers free tips for lawyers to help them win more cases. Bob is also the author of the book Jeb Brovsky New York City Jersey , 101 Quick Courtroom Tips for Busy Lawyers (http:www.CourtroomPresentationTips). To speak to Bob directly, call 1-877-863-0909.

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