Inappropriate Jury Selection Practices: Getting Jurors to Like You
Almost two decades ago, during my first criminal jury trial as a prosecutor, I was met with an opposing defense attorney who immediately started talking about how she used to be a teacher with the Broward County school board. It was immediately apparent that her conversation was directed at a member of the presumptive panel who had previously explained during the Judges preliminary questioning that education was her life’s work.
I objected swiftly and defense counsel was quickly redirected by the court. Unfortunately, I knew that even in those brief moments of my adversary’s identifying with Juror number three, that she had managed to build a foundation of commonality and shared purpose with at least one potential juror who may have been charged with finding fact in the case that I was prosecuting.
The act was intentional yet un-egregious. Meaning it wouldn’t have warranted reprimand by the court.
It was tactical.
I eventually removed the Juror via one of my six preemptive strikes. Unfortunately, in much the same mild manner, my opposition had subtly let most of the jurors know that she was just like them during her questioning.
Over the last 15 years as a lawyer who defends people, I have also looked for subtle ways to relate to jurors.
“Mr. So and So, you stated earlier that you work in web development,” are you a site designer or an SEO?
(suddenly a look of shock in that potential jurors face that me, a lawyer on the case was speaking tech!)
Suddenly we are two people that “get” one another. I have glorified his chosen career and better yet I can’t go on talking about HTML or Search Engines because its inappropriate and prohibited under our rules… Meaning, it won’t be revealed that I know very little about computers or programming other than there are developers and there are SEOs.