Among the lawyers we work with, and also on our own team, we have observed some ironclad “rules” for jury selection. When it comes to cases where we are working for the defense, we always try to strike teachers. We look critically at those who have filed a similar suit or have even thought about filing one. One of us refuses to consider men with ponytails.
But beyond those rules, the other primary attribute we consider is leadership potential. In fact, our juror “facesheets,” customized one-page summaries of individual jurors, include a box on top where we add a plus if we believe a person will likely be a leader in the deliberation room. That plus goes right next to our overall juror rating, underscoring the weight we place on this trait.
Identifying the potential leaders in your venire is key, because the inclusion or exclusion of certain leaders can change the entire tenor of your trial and likely determine (or at least strongly influence) the outcome. Whether it’s actual leadership experience such as being PTA president or head of a club or personal experience relevant to the case that might give the person knowledge of the subject matter, we have observed such people dominate a focus group conversation. In this setting, our moderators are able to re-direct conversation to “spread the love” to the less vocal participants.
But at trial, there may not always be a voice of reason in the deliberation room. We have heard about leaders taking over the discussion and in some cases belittling or berating those who dare to disagree. In the end, the verdict could very likely go the way the leader wants – regardless of whether it’s the consensus of the jury as a whole.
If you would like some guidance on the right questions to ask to identify the leaders in your venire, contact us at email@example.com or 714.754.1010. We look forward to hearing from you.