When "It happens" we can help. Free phone consultation. Make the call today: 972-559-4548

When "It Happens" we can help. We will be happy to discuss your situation. The phone consultation is free so make the call today: 972-559-4548

The Importance of Jury Selection

 

A trial is more than the presentation of evidence and adherence to rules and burdens of proof. It is also about the people to whom you are communicating these concepts. If those people do not connect to you or understand the message you are sending, it could potentially affect the verdict.

Jury Selection from a DA's Viewpoint

Every county provides their assistant district attorneys with access to jury selection slides. The majority of the time, these slides are handed down from one generation of ADAs to another with little change or adjustment. Six years after I started with the DA's office, I see the same slides being used for definitions of reasonable doubt as I used in my time at Collin County. For example, the DA's will commonly use a slide of puzzle pieces to highlight reasonable doubt. They will then show the slide with the nearly completed puzzle picture and ask if the jury panel can tell what it is then. Nine times out of ten it is a shark or a gun. These standard slides show the DA office is failing to evolve its arguments and in essence does not understand that the jury needs to be talked to, not at.

Jury Selection from a Defense Attorney's Viewpoint

The defense attorney is most likely the only connection a jury has to the defendant. Most successful not guilty verdicts come from emphasizing the gaps in the State's case as opposed to providing evidence through the testimony of the Defendant. The jury must trust the defense attorney, that he or she would not mislead them and is truly attempting to hold the state to its burden, not "get a guy off" and avoid charges. The State will consistently paint the Defendant as failing to testify because he has something to hide or that reasonable doubt is not as high a burden as one may think as it is met in courtrooms across the country daily. These tactics distract from the problems in the State's case and the defense attorney must have the ability to bring the jury back to the main issues. For example, when the state uses the slides for reasonable doubt and the picture reflects a gun, redirect the conversation away from the state's argument to open that shows that the application of reasonable doubt is more expansive. If the state is asking "is this a puzzle of a gun" then you would have your answer beyond a reasonable doubt. However, if the question is actually "is this a real gun", the state has failed to meet its burden and the verdict would be not guilty. If the state can not answer its own question, the jury can not convict.

Cause Questions

The state will most likely attempt to reach the major cause questions. For all cases, these include standing in judgment of another, personal experiences with the type of offense, and failure of the defendant to testify. A great number of ADAs are not being properly trained on these questions however and are attempting to use their inadequate questioning and borderline answers to cause people off the jury. Case law establishes that a jury need not be unequivocal in the ability to not think about a prior experience or that there was only one witness provided. They only need to verify they can make a decision on the case at present based on the facts and circumstances of this case.