Sunday, June 16, 2013
Good morning and happy Father’s Day to all you dads:
This article supplements my post yesterday: Zimmerman trial and the strategic use of peremptory challenges UPDATED
I used a simple three-part classification method during jury selection to decide how to use my peremptory challenges. I do not claim to have invented this method. Many lawyers use it or something similar to it. I had lots of success with it and recommend that we use it to evaluate the potential jurors (PJs).
The three categories are: leaders, followers and tweeners.
Leaders are generally, but not always, well-educated professional people with lots of life-experience. They are self-confident, comfortable in their own skin and good at organizing and managing other people. These folks usually are selected to serve as the foreperson of the jury. They know how to create consensus without arrogantly telling people how they should vote. They can be male or female, conservative or liberal, and belong to any race or ethnicity.
RULE: If you are not certain that a PJ in this category is going to accept your theory of the case, use a peremptory to excuse the person.
I do not believe I have to explain who is in this category. They are likely to go along with the majority and not hold out against the majority view. Do not expect them to cause a hung jury. These people respect authority figures and are good at following orders.
RULE: Do not use a peremptory challenge against a follower unless you are satisfied with the tweeners in the box and want to use it to create an open seat on the jury so that a leader you want to have on the jury can move into the box and replace the follower.
Note: Sometimes you have to use more than one peremptory to move the leader you want into the box.
Tweeners are in between the leaders and the followers. They may be the most intelligent PJs but prefer playing a supporting role to serving as the foreperson. They prefer thinking before acting and take pride in making well-informed decisions. I looked for people willing to consider my theory of the case and seriously committed to the process of examining and considering all of the evidence.
With rare exceptions, I had a theory of the case supported by evidence which, if believed by the jury, would support a verdict of not guilty.
RULE: Tweeners help the foreperson make the right decision by assuring due process.
As we continue to watch the jury selection process, classify the PJs into one of the three categories. Do this from the prosecution’s perspective and then do it from the defense perspective. Performing this exercise will bring jury selection to life and deepen your understanding of what is going on.
Your continuing support allows me to continue posting independent articles like this.
Please consider making a donation to keep independent journalism alive.