Category: Jury Selection

  • Theory: Direct or Indirect Criminal Trial Advocacy

    In hypnosis, there are two basic styles of inducing trance: the direct, or “authoritarian” style, and the indirect, or “Ericksonian” (named after Milton Erickson) style. The direct: “Close your eyes.” The indirect: “You might find yourself wondering whether you can go into trance, and thinking about your doubts you might discover a time when you could […]

  • Meditations

    I had a jury trial in Midland County last week. ((Not guilty, thank you very much.)) The jury panel was very authoritarian — the prosecutor asked a Likert-Scaled (Strongly Agree — Agree — Disagree — Strongly Disagree) question: “Better that 100 guilty people go free than that one innocent person be punished?” Almost every member […]

  • Trick Questions

    It doesn't matter who asks them—defense lawyers, prosecutors, cops—or whom they are asked—witnesses, the jurors themselves, defendants—jurors don't like trick questions. Getting caught asking a trick question lessens the questioner's credibility. Here's a trick question that cops sometimes ask people suspected of DWI: "On a scale of zero to ten, how intoxicated would you say […]

  • Small Step Toward Scientific Jury Selection

    Some numbers, perhaps of interest to nobody but me: Panel average -0.15 Struck for cause average 0 Struck by defense average -0.02 Jurors sworn average -0.20 Struck by State average -0.69 Numbers are a measure of authoritarianism/egalitarianism based on scaled answers to eight questions, chosen unscientifically—according to how interesting they were to me. Lower numbers […]

  • 16 Simple Rules, All Together

    The American Society of Trial Consultants has published my Sixteen Simple Rules for Better Jury Selection in its online newsletter, The Jury Expert, along with responses from several jury consultants. Read the rules and responses here.

  • They Skipped Those Days in Sunday School

    From Birmingham, Alabama: Court officials say a Birmingham woman who changed her name to Jesus Christ didn’t live up to it when she reported for jury duty this week. The woman, previously named Dorothy Lola Killingworth, was sent to Judge Clyde Jones’s courtroom for a criminal case Monday. Court officials told The Birmingham News Tuesday […]

  • Meet Your Next Jury Panel

    Jeff Gamso writes about birthers, (political) teabaggers, truthers, Flat-Earthers, alien abductees, and other unshakeable believers in alternate realities (21% of New Jerseyites surveyed weren’t sure that Barack Obama is not the Anti-Christ). What set Jeff off is that Arlington, Tennessee Mayor Russell Wiseman is one of these nutjobs. What sets me off is that lots […]

  • Jury Selection: Simple Rule 16: The Herd Rule

    The last rule for right now (it is an evolving list). . . . I’ve talked about how the jury panel is a group and the jury is a group. Why? Because people like to be in groups. Most people will, given a choice between being in a big group and being in a small […]

  • Jury Selection: Simple Rule 15: The Bat Rule

    If the rules were in some particular order, this would have received much higher ranking.  Simple Rule 15: The Bat Rule: Ping, then listen. Or fail. Because bats, you know, use echolocation: ping! and detect food and obstacles by the signal that bounces back. A bat that doesn’t ping doesn’t eat, but neither does a […]

  • Jury Selection: Simple Rule 14: The Atticus Finch Rule

    Remember the scene near the end of To Kill a Mocking Bird in which Atticus Finch, having lost the case, wearily packs up his things to leave the courtroom? As he’s preparing to leave, the blacks in the gallery stand up for him; Reverend Sykes tells Scout, “Miss Jean Louise? Miss Jean Louise, stand up! […]