One of the jury selection concepts I was taught at the Trial Lawyers College was to embrace the gifts the jurors gave you . I did not fully understand the concept during the lecture. However , the light bulb came on once I saw it in action.
I was sitting in the courtroom of the Cheatham County Courthouse . It is pictured in the post . I was there to settle a criminal case during a break in the trial. I listened to the jury selection with interest . It was a DUI case . One juror disclosed that she believed in zero tolerance of alcohol and driving . No one should have any alcohol and drive was her position . The defense lawyer tried to challenge her for cause . As trial judges are taught , one question was asked . "Can you follow the Law ". The juror said , " Of Course ". The juror stayed.
What did the criminal defense lawyer accomplish ? First , he killed any meaningful discussion of the jurors . The lawyer showed to the other jurors what happens if you speak your mind . The result is keep your mouth shut. Most importantly was the failure to open the gift . The gift was her full and honest disclosure of her true feelings about drunk driving . The juror’s belief of zero tolerance with alcohol and driving which is not uncommon in the Bible belt and I am sure others in the panel had the same belief .
Use the gift of her disclosure to ask other jurors how they feel about her comment . Discover why she feels the way she does. Use the poison answer to tell your story of the case . Don’t hide from the bad answer . Embrace it . Deal with it . Use all the gifts the jury gives you .
If your trying cases , take a minute to watch the jury selection of other lawyers . You just might learn something by watching and listening .