So here is a post about being a lawyer – not about crimes.
This weekend I will be serving as a mentor for the United States District Court trial skills program. Basically I will help provide whatever benefit I may have gained over the past twenty-seven years in the courtroom to lawyers who have less time there. Some will not have any real time in court, and many will never have picked a jury. So tell me about picking a jury – my own daughter / prosecutor asked me recently. Jury picking is a tricky thing. Last summer at the Trial Lawyer’s College we spent a fair amount of time with Gerry Spence learning his "method" of sorting out who stays and who leaves. At the simplest level, nobody picks a jury. You pick the people you do not trust – cannot trust, and pick them to leave. The first step is to remember that you want to include the jurors on your "team." The key is to identify open minded jurors, and get them to gain confidence in you. If they associate with you and your case and your client, they are more likely to reject the other side in the case. So we start out by being honest with potential jurors about the case. We tell them about the warts (problems) – and as Gerry says – show them are own warts.
I gave an example of this last summer from a case I won in which my client, an Iranian woman, was accused of defrauding the government’s medicaid system. You can read about that case here. I told the jurors that I was afraid I harbored prejudices against Iranians and that might hurt my own client’s case. My own prejudices likely go back to the capture of Americans by the Shah’s supporters. I remember seeing them paraded through the streets and thinking how unfair it was that these Americans were held by terrorists while my government did nothing. My feelings were real, so I told the jury about them. They then talked to me about their own prejudices – many were willing to discuss this because I had. You know the drill – you show me yours and I’ll show you mine. Nothing brings jurors closer than that kind of "sharing." Bottom line – jury picking is tricky stuff, and almost nobody (including me most days) does a very good job of it. But if you need to do this and are worried about how to – call me – I love to help other lawyers with this stuff. And pick up a copy of Spence’s "Win Your Case." Truthfully, the stuff in that book can help you win your case.