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Identifying Leaders in Criminal Trial Jury Selection

Individuals with strong leadership traits can mean the difference between a guilty or not guilty verdict depending on the life experiences and opinions specific juror possessing such a trait. Identifying leaders is easier than you would think and should be done immediately in the jury selection process.

Leaders Are Not Necessarily Going to Be Chosen as the Foreperson

Many criminal defense attorneys mistake leadership qualities for the same traits used by a chosen jury panel when selecting a foreperson. Much research strongly suggests that prior jury experience is one of the number one reasons that a criminal juror is chosen to lead the deliberations. This is known as “foreperson by default” and in no way relies upon leadership qualities. Regardless of whether the former juror was elected foreperson or not they are likely to be chosen based on their prior experience alone. Contrary to popular belief a foreperson to a criminal trial deliberation is more likely to be led by an “opinion leader” despite holding the title of this honorary role.

Traits of an Individual Often Elected as the Foreperson to a Criminal Trial Deliberation

Where there are no chosen jurors on a criminal trial who have had prior jury trial experience, research suggests that the traits looked for by the other panel members are conviction in principle. Attorney William Moore states that while these certainly could exist in individuals possessing strong leadership qualities, they are often more prevalent among followers. A good example of this is among the vast followers who comprise hate groups. Strong and conviction and seemingly ignorant at the same time.

Two Types of Leaders on a Presumptive Criminal Trial Jury

Research suggests that there are two types of leaders each of whom possess entirely different traits. On the one hand you have the loud and overpowering individual and on the other the successful and knowledgeable one.

Dominance Leaders

Dominance leaders are individuals who are often loud, interrupt, talk over people, maintain steady eye contact, are stubborn and may often be considered to be bullies. Dominance leaders are very easy to spot and will immediately tell you that they possess leadership qualities when asked.

Prestige Leaders

Prestige leaders are quite different in a sense that they are often intellectuals who have achieved success in their chosen field. These people are often looked to as being knowledgeable in the criminal trial jury deliberation process regardless of whether or not their chosen field or area of expertise relates in any way to the criminal justice system.

Opinions of Either Type Can Mean the Difference Between a Guilty or Not Guilty Verdict

Neither type of leader is better than the other when it comes to making or breaking your case from a criminal defense standpoint. If a dominance leader is predisposed to believe your defense it makes no difference if they bully their way into convincing the other chosen jurors to vote not guilty. It may be said however, that a prestige leader might be more apt to listen to a well presented defense where dominance leader may rely on predisposition.

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