This series of blog posts will present my top tips during jury selection. In the past five years, I have tried cases in many of the most conservative counties in Oregon and I have the battle scars to prove it. Having been fortunate enough to walk into a litigation position straight out of law school, I had ample opportunity to find out what works in jury selection. I will spare you the basics – such as “explain the preponderance of the evidence” or “talk as little as possible, listen as much as possible” – and I won’t attempt to give a one-size fits all approach to voir dire. Rather, this post and the ones that follow it will share with you five suggestions that have helped the most in my recent trials.
Let Someone Take Notes For You
I bring an associate or paralegal with my to trial and have them take notes during voir dire. I made this change three years ago. Whit it initially seemed awkward, I have found that it made things much easier for me. All I had to do was talk and listen. Moreover, I was surprised how often my peremptory challenges aligned with my note-taker’s proposed challenges.
Aside from making things easier for the trial attorney, allowing another person to take notes allows for increased eye contact between you and the prospective jurors. An important aspect of jury selection is building juror confidence in you, the trial attorney. This is difficult when the attorney constantly looks down at his or her question sheet and or in order to take notes. As the old adage goes, “the eyes are the gateway to the soul”: by maintaining eye contact as the questions are asked and answered, the prospective jurors inevitably feel as though the attorney is sincere and cares about what he or she is saying. You are, in essence, building both your credibility and your likability, which will pay off later in the process.