Jury Selection: Simple Rule 6: Improv Rule I

Rules 6 and 7 are timely, since they come from improvisational theatre and I just got back from four days of intensive improv training at BATS (I highly recommend the training).

Rule 6: No scripts.

I’ve written about voir dire scripts before. You’re not going to get very much information if you walk the jury through your list of questions. If you have a list of questions, you’re not ready for the unsettling answers.

More than a few times I’ve heard a potential juror tell a lawyer that the juror lost a family member to a drunk driver, to have the lawyer make a note on a piece of paper and move on to the next question. If someone tells you his brother was killed by a drunk driver, there is a correct response, and It’s not written there in your list of voir dire questions.

This is related to the Blind Date Rule as well: if you show up for your blind date with a list of questions, you’ll be seen as creepy, and rightly so.

Like my friend Neal Davis says, most trials boil down to only a couple of issues. When you go into a jury selection, have a few subjects you want to discuss with the jurors. Figure out a few ways to get the jurors talking about each of these subjects, then stand up and do it.

No scripts.

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0 responses to “Jury Selection: Simple Rule 6: Improv Rule I”

  1. Greetings:

    I greatly appreciate your insights into jury selection. I am a trial skills instructor for the Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Association annual Trial College and I am incorporating some of your ideas into next year’s session.

    Regarding scripts: Especially for new lawyers – in my opinion, having something of an outline to refer to creates comfort and stability which translates to confidence and trustworthiness. I think the point of Improv Rule I is that the script (maybe call it “A list of points to cover”) is merely a suggestion to the attorney and that in all instances, their questioning should be guided by the responses they receive.

    And you are right in stating that there is “a correct response” when a juror reveals some past tragedy. Maybe you could rename this item as “Don’t forget to be human.” Or – “Mind your Manners” or “WWEPD” (What would Emily Post do)

    Thanks for putting your time and effort into sharing this information with us.

    Kind regards,

    Laura Fine Moro

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