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Looking at Voir Dire as if it is your Personal Focus Group

The members in a jury are an important factor in the win or lose of a case, but knowing that you’ll rarely select your ideal jury panel is a good step towards getting your point across when dealing with the jury. Almost every jury panel will have its group (big or small) of jurors who are cynical and/or apprehensive about your presenting case. If it comes about that you jury panel is not in agreement with your case at all, the judge will reject any cause challenges of the biased jurors, you will then have fewer peremptory challenges than antagonistic jurors, and then you will have no choice but to present your case to unsupportive jurors who have a difference of personal values with your case. One thing that is not efficient and will not help you win your case is to present your case to these type of jurors the same way you would to a friendly jury who agrees with your views.

Now matter how unreceptive your jury panel may be towards you and your case, remember to always take extra time to treat your Voir Dire as if it were your own personal focus group. When selecting a jury, your selection should not aim towards identifying which jurors to keep and those to get rid of, unless you have reason to believe that the panel of judges will be interested in your case and trial themes. Questions that are intended to find out the juror’s feelings towards the issues presented in your case is a good way in getting ahead in your case. When you learn about their beliefs, values, and what they would do in a situation like the one you are presenting, the potential jurors will then start to be receptive. We know that we cannot directly ask the jurors a question about the detailed facts of the case but what can be questioned are the common issues and the beliefs and values of what the case is about. Many lawyers who go to trial often know that the structure and standards of your jury panel can differ from each panel.

Through random chance, some trials get panels with jurors who come in with bad experiences while other panels have happy jurors. One assumption that should never be made is that the jury panel will be equally balanced with both types of individuals. When you match you trial themes and values of the case to that of the jurors is vital due to the evidence associated with “confirmation bias”. In general, this figure of speech means that individuals decide whether or not they believe or mistrust new information on how well the information is supported by their beliefs they held prior to the case, instead of how convincing the information brought forth may be. “Confirmation Bias” is an immense factor in what the jury may or may not decide that pre – dispositions matter more heavily than the evidence brought forth in trial.

Treat your Voir Dire as your personal focus group and ask them questions about their values and beliefs. When you are done with the daunting task of choosing your jury, remove the least receptive of the jurors, and you will find that you are left with jurors that share the same concerns, reservations, and opinions. By getting to know their values and beliefs, you can aim your trial theme and the way you go about presenting the case to match the values and beliefs of that of your jurors. When you align you trial themes to that of what the jurors believe, this becomes of use for appealing to rather hostile jurors. The best way to get rid of concerns from the jurors and persuade them into seeing your view of the case is to convince them that your case is in alignment with their beliefs and values. When you first open your statement, take the time to show them that your case fits with concepts that they already agree with. If your panel has many conservative jurors present, make your statements rely more on emotion and sympathetic trial themes. Conservatives lean towards believing in personal responsibility for one’s self. If your panel has many liberal jurors present, do not attack the plaintiff and charge them with personal problems. Instead, make the case about responsible efforts your client took in order to set them apart from the stereotype. Remember that it is almost possibility of winning a case is limited with a rigid panel of jurors. If you find that you cannot choose a panel of jurors that are already receptive to the case, try to make your case more receptive to the jury.

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