San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney Jury Pick Up
How does a San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney do a Jury Pick Up? No one wants to hear lawyers talk, especially not for an hour or more. So, how then does a lawyer pick a jury for a criminal trial without annoying the very people who will decide the fate of the accused? It is not an easy task. In fact, it is a task attorney after attorney fails at miserably.
Breaking the Ice
The easiest way to recognize a good trial attorney is by watching how they pick a jury. Jurors are normal everyday people and so the attorney must come off as a normal everyday person too. You might see criminal lawyers in San Diego start with a humorous quip, not a joke really, because we wouldn’t want to come off as taking the very serious nature of a criminal trial too lightly, but a quip. Something along the lines of ‘You know in this country, the number two fear is death, number one is public speaking; that means most of you would rather be dead then here talking to me today’.
That quip is usually followed by sympathetic advice to the jurors that if any question asked is too personal, they can always ask to answer the question in private outside the earshot of their 50 new best friends (the rest of the jury candidates). It’s something to get a little levity in the room, and a way to assure the jurors that you know them having to answer questions in a public forum might be uncomfortable. It humanizes the attorney and by association, the client.
Soft Questions First
Once the ice has been broken, we ease into the questions. We start by asking things like where the juror grew up and what type of shows they watch on TV. Why? Those questions are easy for the juror to comfortably answer but tell you a huge amount about the person. Jurors from rural areas, for example, may tend to be conservative. Jurors from rougher parts of large cities may tend to be more skeptical of the police. Of course, not every juror will fit into the generalizations, but jury selection involves a limited amount of information in a limited amount of time.
More Personal Questions Next
Inevitably, you will have to ask a question that may make the juror uncomfortable. Before doing so, we remind the jurors that anything that is too personal can be answered in private. Perhaps during the judge’s initial questions the juror disclosed that she was the victim of a crime. It is vital to follow up on that question by asking what type of crime and how long ago it occurred. Why? If the juror was the victim of a robbery last year and the client is charged with any category of theft the juror would likely be very sympathetic towards the victim and very angry towards the defendant, even subconsciously. If instead the juror was the victim of a car break-in 20 years ago, you could still rely on their other answers to determine if they are the right juror for the case.
Avoiding the Technical
Attorneys have a reputation for speaking like we are speaking to another attorney. This is the kiss of death during a jury trial. If an attorney starts talking like a lawyer, droning on using legalese, by the third sentence the jury will have started to tune the lawyer out. During trial that can mean one or more jurors miss a very important cross examination question. During jury selection that can mean the juror isn’t paying attention when a question is asked that if the juror had heard, the juror’s answer would have immediately caused that juror to be stricken from the panel.
A good attorney makes sure the potential jurors are listening to every question, to every answer, and is participating in the most important part of the trial process. In part this is done by speaking plainly.
Addressing the Law Clearly
This may seem contrary to the previous paragraph. How does one talk about the law without getting technical? The truth is that most attorneys don’t. They simply don’t know how. This flaw can cost a client their liberty.
The law affords a criminal defendant the highest level of protection. The prosecution must prove each and every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. So a good San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney needs to be able to comfortably, clearly and concisely talk about what the very confusing term ‘beyond a reasonable doubt means’ and also needs to be able to recite and explain the elements the prosecution has to prove in a simple, understandable, manner.
One of the many ways we like to talk about just how high the burden is for the prosecution is by explaining the following– the standard in a civil case is simply a little more than 50% because only money is involved; the standard for taking away someone’s children is much higher, it is clear and convincing evidence because so much more is at stake; but the standard in a criminal case is even higher than to take someone’s children away- it is beyond a reasonable doubt because the most important thing in the world is at stake- a person’s liberty. That explanation is a way to get the jury to understand the seriousness of what is at stake for the defendant.
Closing with Care
Remember, jurors are missing work, getting babysitters, and maybe using their paid time off when on the jury. If they don’t feel appreciated by one side, they are likely to subconsciously take that frustration out on the client. We are always polite, deferential, and personable when addressing the jurors. The argument is with the State, not the jurors, and the jurors should never be made to feel confronted or attacked.
How many juries has the San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney picked who you’re considering hiring? It’s a question to which, if not asked early on by the astute defendant, the answer will become apparent during jury selection.
Criminal know San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney Ashby Sorenson has much jury experience. If you have a serious criminal matter needing a San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney with a winning record in front of juries, you may reach Mr. Sorenson at 858-999-6921.