As I picked a jury this afternoon in an automobile accident collision case, I thought of the basics. What am I trying to tell this jury about my case? What am I trying to explore in this jury panel? If you ask attorneys who actually try a lot of cases, they will explain that voire dire or jury selection is part science but mostly an art, developed by actually picking juries. Some people are born to talk to twelve people about their client’s case and can do so in such a natural way that the jury is drawn to them like a moth to a flame… Others, and I fall into this category, must work on picking a jury and constantly feel awkward and unnatural. Asking questions and keeping the jury discussing issues when they would like to be doing anything but sitting there answering your questions is difficult. Jury selection so that the jury stays interested ramps up the difficulty. You pick a civil jury after lots of hours of case preparation, development, depositions of all the parties and a really informed idea as to what you want to do with your case… or at least that is the preferable idea. In many cases, the issues present themselves over time or dissolve or fail to dissolve as the evidence is pulled out of the various witnesses. When I’m picking a jury I am constantly having to slow myself down as I want the best jurors possible, I also, due to all the preparation, want to get started with my trial. That is a mistake and one I deal with in every trial. You cannot move past jury selection or for that matter any other part of a trial. Each part, opening, closing, jury selection or each witness interviewed must be given whatever amount of time it takes to finish. What questions are really relevant? After over fifty automoible trials, I’m more interested in the people on the panel and how they are going to interact with each other and what those people are going to think about my client than specific questions. Nice, hard working people with a good work history who do not have a history of causing automobile accidents are honestly who I want, I want people like my clients. Many of my clients have great work histories, work hard and try to get better and back to their normal lives as quickly as possible – just looking for more people just like they are
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