I’m proud to announce that Jury Selection Handbook: The Nuts and Bolts of Effective Jury Selection, a book that I co-wrote with Ronald Clark from Seattle University Law School, was published this month by Carolina Academic Press and will be available soon on Amazon and at a variety of other online retailers.
Seattle University Law School alum will tell you that Ron Clark is an outstanding professor who is a master at dissecting complex subjects for his students. This book is an extension of his approach. Ron and I dissect the jury selection process, break it down into all of its various steps, and discuss the kinds of strategic choices that attorneys have to make at each of those steps. Some of those choices may be obvious at times, but many others are choices that a lot of attorneys may not realize are available to them. Continue reading →
Recently, I picked a jury in the Pacific Northwest where the judge provided the attorneys for each side limited time for attorney-conducted voir dire (20 minutes each). While the time allocations for voir dire vary from case to case and from judge to judge, most jury selections involve some sort of time limitations along these lines. In other words, in many case, attorneys probably need more time than they actually receive in order to conduct the kind of jury selection that they would prefer. This has important implications because it means that every choice an attorney makes in his or her voir dire is a trade-off. If an attorney spends time focused on one topic, it takes time away from another topic. Consequently, attorneys are put in the position of having to make some tough choices about how to spend their time. Continue reading →
Jury selection is a critical part of trial. Varying theories of attorneys’ ability to win or lose a case in voir dire run rampant among lawyers and their clients, but discussion of those theories are for another day. This post focuses on the importance of communicating with the trial judge in advance about the process of jury selection and identifies key areas of inquiries for attorneys in that process.
Unfortunately, with so much going on in the weeks leading up to trial, focus on jury selection can fall by the wayside. In some instances, the important questions about the process are simply not asked. In other instances, attorneys make assumptions about what a judge will or will not do during jury selection, sometimes “informed” by a colleague who picked a jury in front of that particular judge in the past. Continue reading →
Who do I want on my jury? Men or women? Are women too emotional for this case? Are African-Americans going to be a problem for my predominantly white corporate client? I’m pretty sure the woman in the front row is a lesbian…should I be concerned? Should I have one of the female attorneys from our firm sit at the table during trial with us?
These are all very common questions that I hear from attorneys. Our society has always been strangely preoccupied with demographics. National news media are constantly flashing polls broken down by men, women, whites, African-Americans, Hispanics, etc. At times, it feels like it’s a national pastime to lump all women or African Americans together and draw hasty conclusions about “them.” As someone who devoted a lot of time to studying critical theory in college and graduate school, I wince every time the topic comes up. But that discussion is for another time. In fact, I tend to believe this rush to overgeneralize along the borders of demographics comes from a different place when we are talking about attorneys. Continue reading →