New Pitfalls in Jury Selection

Even more than closing argument, some believe that jury selection is the most important talent a litigator can have. As our society progresses and becomes more diverse, the use of outdated stereotypes and the idea of finding a particular kind of juror for any given case becomes more and more obsolete.

As attitudes and society have changed, our strategy for selecting jurors kept up with the times. By way of example, it was not that long ago that any attorney representing a party who had a visible tattoo had to be concerned about a negative reaction to that adornment by the jury pool. Today, with tattoos proliferating on just about every part of the body, there is less concern for negative reaction because they are more accepted by society as a whole.

Concerns about selecting the right jury have now shifted from the reaction of a panel to your client to the reaction of individual jurors to their civic duty. While everyone is familiar with the stereotype of citizens attempting to evade jury service, there is currently a disturbing trend of people who seek to serve on cases and will lie to do so.

Recent research done within the past two years shows that up to 18 percent of potential jurors will lie or misrepresent information about their opinions or background in order to serve on a jury and influence the outcome of a trial. The jury selection system is based on our trust that jurors will be honest with us. These statistics show that the threat to fair and unbiased trials is no longer the plot line of a movie or novel.

The Connecticut state court system for selecting jurors is uniquely different from most jurisdictions. The litigators at Berchem Moses PC, take full advantage of the opportunity to get to know the person before he or she is seated as a juror. In Connecticut, each potential juror is questioned individually outside the presence of the other jurors. There are no time limits on questioning, and the selection process can occasionally take longer than the actual presentation of evidence. However, the results are worth it. A thorough examination by our experienced trial lawyers has resulted in the weeding out of inappropriate jurors and the achievement of successful trial results.

Most states and the entire federal court system use a panel voir dire. Only in very rare instances are attorneys allowed to individually question potential jurors at length. In this type of system, it is possible that somebody will end up on the jury who has not raised a hand or answered any of the questions posed by the judge. In the federal forum, our firm routinely asks for permission to conduct individual voir dire, in an effort to seek the fairest jury panel possible.

The Litigation Department at Berchem Moses PC, is always on the alert for issues such as this that may affect our clients' interests in every phase of a case, from the beginning through trial.