Jason Bloom, a nationally known jury consultant who was the consultant for Roger Clemons’ acquittal in his perjury trial, recently spoke at a CLE presentation. Here are some of the ideas he shared about how to pick a jury and how to present your case to them.
Are jurors smarter than you?
Not quite, but they are getting there. The modern jury is more educated than in years past. There is an old adage that you should try your case as if you are speaking to eighth graders. I never agreed with that adage but the current statistics prove it to be wrong. Bloom relates that 40% of jurors have a college education and 23% have a post-graduate degree.
Do stereotypes still work?
Bloom points out that you should not pick jurors based on demographics such as gender, ethnicity, or age. Those stereotypes are not reliable indicators. Instead, find out about the jurors’ life experiences. For example, does a juror see the world as just or unjust. This outlook could help you decide whether the juror would be good or bad for you depending on your case.
Relax! It’s your house
During voir dire, embody reflective listening. That is, show compassion with whatever the witness is talking about. Show respect and build rapport. Be comfortable. Pretend that you are in your living room. If you are nervous, jurors may mistake that emotion for a lack of confidence in your case.
You will need to cross the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean
I could not agree more with Bloom’s view that “there is a gap the size of the ocean between what lawyers want to say and what jurors want to hear.” Lawyers believe explanations are the key to persuasion. Instead, lawyers need to find the human emotion tied to their case that will persuade the jury.
I believe that you should fit the bottom line message of what your case is all about on the inside flap of a match book. Bloom gives you a little more room. He advises that you should take out a 3×5 index card and write on it the answer to these four questions: 1) Why are we hear? 2) What is the point? 3) Why is this important? and 4) What is the significance?
Reading is boring!
Not surprisingly, jurors learn by watching, not reading. I could not agree more. Your trial needs to use visual aids constantly to inform and keep the jury entertained.
Get an A on your report card
Bloom pointed out that when jurors evaluate attorneys after a trial, there are three things that matter most. Was the attorney organized, prepared, and did he or she have passion?
Finally, when evaluating witnesses, jurors care whether the witness was responsive to the question, were his answers to the point, and was he composed.