Many of us understand the concept of a jury and how it generally works. But if you’ve never been selected to serve on a jury or been involved in a legal case that needed to be taken all the way to jury trial and litigation, you may not truly understand how the jury selection process works and just how important it really is.
Though jury selection is something your legal team will primarily handle, it’s important for you, as the plaintiff, to also understand how the process works and why certain decisions are made when it comes to selecting a jury of your peers. Because that selection can truly make all the difference in the ultimate outcome of your case.
Jury Selection Isn’t Random
Though receiving a request to report for jury duty may happen somewhat randomly, the process of being selected to actually serve on a jury is anything but. The jury in a trial has the power to make or break your case; they are, after all, the party that will decide whom to hold accountable for the legal issue at hand. That’s why your lawyer needs to be expertly practiced at making wise jury selections and should never leave things up to random choices. Because if a lawyer can select jurors who they think will be more favorable to you and your circumstances and eliminate the ones who aren’t, you stand a much better chance of having the decision go your way.
Selecting the right jury members to serve your case requires practiced intuition on your attorney’s part. Through the process of voir dire or interviewing potential jurors, your attorney has the chance to deep-dive into who these people are, how they think, and what their stance may be on the elements of your case—all without revealing anything about your case itself.
Voir dire means “to speak the truth,” and potential jurors each take an oath to answer the attorneys’ questions honestly during this stage. But this is when your attorney must possess the ability to understand people very well because the reality is that many potential jurors want to be anywhere but in that room, that day, and their answers may show it. So it’s your lawyer’s job to read and react to people carefully in these moments to reach the truth about who they are and how they may vote.
What the Process Looks Like
Both the plaintiff, the defendant, and their legal teams will be present during the entire process of jury selection. In the question-and-response style of voir dire, each side’s lawyer conducts the interview with their client onlooking. Your legal team should have and will have done plenty of preparation before this stage, creating profiles of the types of jurors they’re aiming for and crafting questions to determine whom to select to that end. But the reality is, because they have no idea who the citizens in front of them are until the moment they start voir dire, it can be a tricky process to prepare for accurately.
But an expert trial attorney will know that no matter what kind of responses they receive, they must always keep the questions coming, and the potential jurors talking. They will make their questions simple and straightforward, avoiding heavy legal terms or complicated words and phrases. They want to keep the process easy for people because it sets a space for them to be more open and truthful about how they view the world.
The plaintiff’s lawyer always goes first in voir dire, often setting the tone for how the entire selection process will go. This is especially important when it comes to cases involving things like personal injury or wrongful death, as your lawyer wants to set a sympathetic tone for you from the very beginning. From there, the lawyers will take turns asking questions of the potential jurors and will opt to dismiss them one by one until the pool has been narrowed to the final 12.
How Your Lawyer Makes Their Selections
The key for your lawyer during the selection process is to weed out biases that may harm your case and home in on those citizens who have a worldview that’s in your favor. It’s exactly what the defendant’s lawyer will be doing at the same time, so it becomes a careful dance of revealing and using the information provided in their answers to your case’s advantage.
As the plaintiff, your lawyer will be looking for jurors who show that they have sympathy, are willing to view you as the victim in this case, and want to hold the defendant accountable for their actions. A great example of this type of person is union employees or citizens who work under the thumb of some larger entity or corporation as a smaller cog in the wheel. That’s because these types of people tend to be familiar with the effects of injustice and may have even fought against it before. This is especially true in cases of things like product liability or semi-truck accident cases.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, your lawyer is going to want to avoid jurors being selected who have strong ties to such big corporations from a higher or more powerful position, such as CEOs, business owners, or HR department members. This is because these types of people may have been involved in their own litigation processes previously as the defendant and thus may have a bias in favor of the defendant in this particular situation.
In this way, when it comes to the plaintiff’s side of things, the jury selection process is actually more about the elimination of individuals rather than a specific selection of individuals. That’s because it can often be easier and wiser to dismiss someone for having a single “wrong” answer than it is to hold onto someone whom you’re hoping comes up with the “right” answer eventually.
As the number of potential jurors whittles down, the goal is to be left with a group that is primarily sympathetic to what you’ve been through and the damages you’ve suffered. It may end up that not every single one of the 12 jurors ultimately selected sits firmly in your corner, but in a personal injury case, only a majority of 9 jurors actually needs to vote in your favor for you to win. If your lawyer is experienced in successful jury selection and understands how to build and argue your case to that jury in a meaningful way, then that outcome becomes a much more feasible reality.
If you or a loved one are in need of legal guidance, don’t hesitate to reach out to Finney Injury Law. With years of experience and a commitment to providing clients with the highest quality legal services, they will fight for you every step of the way. Don’t be intimidated by the legal system – Finney Injury Law will help you navigate the process and get the outcome you deserve. Pick up the phone and call 314-293-4222 today!
Posted Under: Litigation/Trial