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Jury Selection

Editor’s Note: A few months ago, one of our AZ Affiliated Attorneys introduced us to Jury Consultant Dr. Wendy Saxon. We were delighted to add her skills to those of our trial experts, pooling talent against the day when the Network needs to participate in the courtroom defense of a member who has used force in self defense. In addition to making her talents available during defense of a member, Dr. Saxon offered to write for our journal to help members understand jury selection and related issues that bear on the successful defense of self-defense actions. This multi-part series starts this month, and we encourage you to read carefully this and next month’s article for a perspective on jury dynamics to which few private citizens are privy.

by Dr. Wendy Saxon

As I sit down to begin this article, a few thoughts keep going through my head. The most significant one, I believe, is how unfortunate it is that we even have to alert you to the pitfalls of trial by a jury of your peers.

Owning firearms and carrying concealed weapons are awesome responsibilities. You are prepared to defend yourself and others in rapidly evolving circumstances that require decision-making of the utmost urgency, circumstances that will be scrutinized endlessly and perhaps inaccurately by the public, the authorities, and even yourself if you have a conscience and the capacity for self-examination. After a shooting, in a perfect world, coming to terms with your actions should be between you and your God. Instead, you will find yourself and your loved ones confronted with armchair analysis even in what seems to you to be crystal clear exigent realities.

Let’s begin with a few words about pre-incident positioning and then recommendations for preparation before a jury pool is summoned for jury selection. What do I mean by pre-incident positioning? I mean EVERYTHING and I do mean EVERYTHING about you before that fateful moment when you pull the trigger.

This cannot be emphasized too strongly. Please, please, PLEASE pay serious attention to the following paragraph.

For your sake and to make your lawyer-to-be’s job of getting you acquitted much easier, forego your natural tendency towards “celebration” of gun ownership. You will SO thank me for this advice, which I reluctantly (and resentfully) follow in my own life. Yes, it’s an infringement on your rights and your enjoyment, but bear in mind always those 12 stone-faced “peers” to whom you may one day surrender your fate and the futures of those who depend on you.

  1. Make sure your firearms are on your state’s approved list;
  2. Select “modest” firearms that can get the job done but reflect constraint and sensibility;
  3. Resist the desire to accumulate more firearms than you need (and can justify);
  4. Carry discreetly and avoid conversations about your CCW permit;
  5. Stay away from gun-mounted lights and lasers;
  6. Never engage in “wannabe cop” type behaviors;
  7. Toss your theme T-shirts;
  8. Purge your home of posters, magazines, lapel pins, or any other items that may make you appear “eager to mix it up”;
  9. Act as though you or your home may be searched at any time;
  10. Do away with bumper stickers and/or signs on your home or workplace;
  11. Be careful with type and location of tattoos;
  12. Visit a shooting range frequently but not “excessively;” you don’t want a range master testifying that “that guy or that gal” was always around;
  13. Assume your computer and your Internet activities may be trotted out in front of a jury of disapproving Quakers at some time in the future.