Written by Jarrett Stone

Not only is jury selection my favorite part of trial, it is also what I consider to be the most important part of trial. 

If you can put people in the jury box that already trust you and favor your position, then you have considerably stacked the deck in your favor.

To do this, you need to first determine during jury selection which potential jurors are leaders and which are followers.

Leaders vs. Followers

For the purposes of jury selection, leaders are people that have strong beliefs about specific issues related to your case. And followers are people that have mere opinions about those same issues.

Notice the difference -- strong beliefs vs. mere opinions. 

When someone has a strong belief about an issue, that means the issue is so personal to them that it is part of their identity.

Meanwhile, people with mere opinions have only reached their opinions based on the information at hand and can most likely be convinced otherwise if more information is provided.

Most importantly, jurors that have mere opinions are highly likely to follow in the footsteps of people with strong beliefs.

Personality vs. Position.

You also don't want someone's personality to distort your view on whether they are a leader or follower. Someone may be a very confident individual but have little-to-no opinion on certain issues because they have never thought about those issues (and vice versa).

For example, if someone were to ask me questions about who they should draft in the first round of their fantasy football draft, then I can take a pretty hard position on my decision and back it up with a lot of facts (yes, I'm one of those guys).

At the same time, if you were to ask me about my stance on premium gas going in a car, then I don't have much to say because I admittedly don't know much about what goes on underneath the hood of a car (also yes, I'm one of those guys).

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Priorities, Priorities, Priorities.

Given this, you should always spend considerable time during jury selection in determining whether people have strong beliefs or mere opinions about critical issues (not personalities).

You do this by providing polar opposites and asking if they lean one direction or another. Then you ask them to tell you more about why they think that.  

And if someone has mere beliefs that lean against you, then don't worry too much about it. It's best to move on to find the leaders that can ultimately persuade those mere beliefs in your favor. 

Alternatively, if you find leaders that are against you, then you need to see about getting them struck. You don't want those leaders persuading the followers against you.

It's all about balance.

After you get a read on where people fall with certain issues, you then need to determine the minimum amount of supporting leaders that you need on the jury.

In doing this, figure out how many opposing leaders will most likely make the jury and then figure out the minimum amount of supporting leaders to outnumber them.

Others may disagree, but I think this is the best approach.

You want enough supporting leaders to outnumber the opposing leaders, however, you don't want too many leaders because you run the risk of egos causing conflicts of some sort (i.e. too many cooks in the kitchen). 

I find the psychology behind jury selection to be super interesting. So be sure to leave a comment to let me know your thoughts on this subject!

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About the Author

Jarrett Stone is the founder of Law Venture and owner of Stone Firm, PLLC. He's a husband, entrepreneur, and self-proclaimed nerd.

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