Jury Selection

Jury Selection Notes:

Big Picture. Encourage jurors to be self selecting.  Conduct selection in an open way where a juror will self elect in or out. Inclusiveness is the goal.  Build on “the community” the jurors have established. Never cross examine a juror. Disagreeing is adversarial  and alienates fellow jurors.

Demeanor.  Zen- like (in the present).  No fear.  No notes except juror names. Address by name if judge allows. Friendly, accepting, encouraging, rewarding openness and candor, no matter what is said.  Find common ground and roll.  Once connect with a juror come back to this juror when process bogs down or stalls.

Beginning.  Introduce self and client.  Consider reading the common case instruction.  Discuss.  “What we are doing is discussion of life experiences, thoughts and feelings to determine if this is right jury for you.”

Topics for Discussion: 1) Too many lawsuits v. Verdict can lead to something good beyond compensation to injured plaintiff;  2) “Do you feel monetary damages measure responsibility for negligence;” or  “Do you feel sometimes only way to establish justice is through monetary compensation;”  3) What do you feel “about caps on damages.”  “In Washington we do not have caps on damages but judge has the power  to knock damages back.” (On “but money cannot eliminate the injury.”  I agree.  “Money cannot change reality of injury and [client] would pay [amount of money] not to have injury).”

First Session: Establish we are involved in an important case;  Justice = monetary compensation;  “What do you feel about non economic damages.” ( McDonalds’- Will never change jurors who are outraged by it.  Remember there are some who know facts, and it is phony to agree  McDonalds is a frivolous lawsuit);  “Anybody agree a person should  be held accountable when they violate a rule that results in injury to another.” (Roll with discussion).

Second Session:  Discuss case concerns: Confess concern about [specific problem in case]. Roll with discussion.  Consider introducing themes:

“MY JOB  YOUR JOB.  “In this case what is my job and what is your job”?  (My job is to bring legitimate cases to get justice and your job is to provide fair compensation in legitimate cases).

ACCOUNTABILITY.  “How important is it to take responsibility for our actions/inactions;”  “How do you feel about people who shirk their responsibility.”

SAFETY.  “Would you sue your [landlord] if you were injured as a result of [a defect in rental].”  “What do you feel about the saying “It is better to be safe then sorry.”

MOST IMPORTANT THINGS. “What are the Most Important Things in Life.” (Roll with discussion).

Challenge for Cause. (Determine how judge wants cause challenges addressed).  With bias juror:  1) Commend openness;  2) Lock in bias;  3) Establish it would be better if you sat on different case given your feelings. “Given your feelings, and considering [client who  has these issues in  his case] do you agree it is fairer to all parties if you you do not sit on this case.”  (If cause challenge is unsuccessful move on as juror is now known).

Bennett’s Jury Selection Rules. Practice 90% listen 10% talk;  No legalese (be a normal guy, not a pompous ass);  Let topic die its natural death (jury kills not me);  Keep conversation flowing and listen, listen, listen;  Use jurors to flow from one to the other;  Never select alone (use simple rating  of +/?/-);  Talk to all and save a decent question/theme;  Open ended non lawyer  speak “How do you feel about…” questions;

PAT. Be prepared.  Trust instincts and  knowledge of the case.  Accept the possibility of failure.  Stay in the moment.  And listen, listen, listen….

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