Principle One: Jury selection is not about selecting the right members of the jury. It is about eliminating the jurors who give you the impression that they can not be fair to your client either due to conscious or subconscious reasons. This principle takes precedent over all other principles.
Principle Two: If principle one is the guiding light, how do you accomplish this task given a limit on peremptory strikes? The best way to get juries to respond honestly is to attempt to establish a rapport which includes a relationship whereby the juror will not be embarrassed or punished by revealing their true feelings.
Thank a juror for any honest response whether it tends to show favor or disfavor to your client's position. If you are able to do this, jurors will be more open about revealing information about their belief system.
Principle Three: Educate the jury. But be honest! Don't misstate the law. Do not misrepresent the facts you expect to be involved in the case. For example, if the case involves a gruesome injury, it is appropriate to ask potential jury members if they would be offended by graphic photos. However, such an inquiry would not be appropriate in a minor whiplash case.
Principle Four: Be your self. Jurors normally have a predisposition not to like lawyers. Be yourself, not Clarence Darrow. It is more likely that a juror may relate to you if you do not pretend to be someone that you are not. If you are normally laid back, don't attempt an aggressive style in the courtroom or it may backfire. The last thing an attorney should want is one or more jurors thinking that an attorney is fake. Building rapport begins with jury selection and continues throughout the trial.
Principle Five: Ask questions; do not lecture. Most people prefer to converse with someone instead of being lectured. Ask your question and then legitimately listen to the response. Follow up with questions to help clarify the response. Do not argue with the potential juror. Treat voir dire like a casual conversation; not a cross-examination Opinions and biases will unlikely change. It is better to understand the potential juror's opinions than to try to change what is unlikely to be changed.
Principle Six: Get in touch with a potential jurors feelings. How one feels about an essential issue in a lawsuit is more important than global questions. Facts in a jurors life may be important, but your case is more likely to hinge upon a juror's feelings associated with those facts. If a potential juror has unpleasant or frightening ideas, it is preferable that you discover them during Voir Dire than it is to have them concealed until jury deliberation. Sometimes it is appropriate for a lawyer to share his own prejudices. Since attorneys want jurors to share their own personal experiences and opinions that will make them predisposed to find against your client, this technique may help reveal jurors that might not be appropriate for this particular case. A juror needs to know that his or her bias does not make them a bad person or unable to be fair. An attorney needs to let a potential juror know that an excused juror in this case may be the perfect juror for the next.
Principle Seven: Let the potential jurors do the talking. Some lawyers like to hear themselves talk. Others talk because they are scared of what potential jurors will say. If;you have a strong defense, it is better that a juror volunteer the defense as his or her own idea than for the attorney to state the defense and ask if jurors agree. Let the potential jurors talk and keep them engaged in the process of jury selection.
Principle Eight: Use plain English. Do not try to impress potential jurors with big words. Speaking at a level that is comprehensible not reprehensible. Johnny Cochran often used large words which might have conveyed an image of arrogance. While it may have worked for Cochran, it does not work for most trial attorneys. If a juror thinks that the attorney believes he is better than the juror, the attorney's client may be unjustly punished. Use everyday language and the same tone that you might use talking to someone while waiting in the checkout line of Walmart.
Principle Nine: During jury selection, try not to use notes! Jurors are more impressed and tend to give more honest feedback if the attorneys questions are not scripted. Prior to jury selection, have a few subjects you want to discuss with the jurors and then decide a couple different ways to get the jurors talking about those subjects.
Principle Ten: Don't argue! If a potential juror says something negative, ask the remaining panel, "How many of you feel the same way?" If a juror says something contrary to your theory of the case and you argue, you will not only stop that juror from being truthful but you will also block other potential jurors form being truthful. Furthermore, it also decreases the chances that a jury will like you. The two best questions are as follows: