The importance of selecting a Jury “properly” cannot be overemphasized. Matt Donaldson, an attorney with the law offices of Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett, P.A., states, "In fact, many cases are won or lost in the Jury selection process. It goes without saying that an extremely conservative or an extremely liberal Jury will have a significant impact on the verdict and the amount of damages awarded."
In just about every case, a Jury can be educated about the case and even preconditioned about your case during Voir Dire (Voir Dire is the right of each lawyer to ask questions of each prospective Juror). Additionally, a lawyer can establish credibility and rapport with the jury pool during the dialogue and he/she can precondition certain potential Jurors to strengths and weaknesses in your case through an effective Voir Dire.
An injury case will often carry a “Theme” as it unfolds, depending on the specific facts, circumstances and personalities involved. This “Theme” of the case can be initially revealed during the Voir Dire and the early attentive status of the Jury pool helps them form a type of “picture” of what they can expect to see during the trial, should they be selected to serve. This often permits certain evidence to have a more significant impact upon those individuals, than it otherwise might have had when presented later in trial. Depending on the Judge assigned, the Jury pool may also be familiarized with the applicable law in the matter, law they will be reminded to follow when they hear it again (via the Judge’s instructions) at the conclusion of the trial.
Although most of jury selection dialogue is improvisational, some important/provocative questions that are a staple of Jury Selection (Voir Dire), and often get individuals talking, are as follow:
These type of questions can often open a dialogue between the lawyer and a member (or members) of the jury pool. It is usually a good practice to get them talking openly and it is a wonderful opportunity to ingratiate oneself with them before the start of the trial. However, watch out for the angry or prejudicial juror that may “poison” the remaining Jury pool members. If a lawyer senses a poisonous individual, he or she should move away quickly and make notes to “challenge” said juror’s presence within your pool later.
Remember, besides Voir Dire, a lawyer is only able to speak directly to a Jury during opening statement, closing statement (and rebuttal). The attorney does not engage in an open “dialogue” during these other opportunities…only during Voir Dire does this conversational opportunity come into play. Jury selection is an attorney’s one time to hear and talk directly with each potential juror and experienced attorneys know that LISTENING to these individual responses can indicate potential sympathies, empathy or lack thereof. The importance of the Jury selection process and the improvisational aspect of this process (Listening) cannot be overemphasized and as stated earlier, the “type” of Jury selected to hear your Injury Trial can make or break your case.
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