September 2013 - Pg 16-Attorney
David A. Cmelik
David A. Cmelik Law PLC
P.O. Box 10194, Cedar Rapids, IA 52410
Potential jurors are people. So to answer the second question first, the best way not to alienate potential jurors is to act as solemn as you would in church, or, in the alternative, at a company picnic where the boss is watching and you want to keep your job. Dress appropriately for the occasion. Most people are not comfortable in a suit (myself included but it is expected of me), so I urge my clients to wear what they might to interview for a job for which they would be qualified and in clothes suitable for daily, comfortable wear, in their chosen profession. If that profession requires rugged denim and overalls, then substitute a pair of black or navy trousers and a button down long sleeve shirt to show respect for the judge and jury. Some courtrooms require greater decorum and an even more strict dress code. Respect is the key phrase for all conduct and dress. Eye rolling to show disapproval of outlandish prosecution arguments or objections will not endear the jury to your cause. Take the high road. Stay calm and carry on, to borrow an oft-repeated phrase of World War II.
As to the first question, it is sometimes said that counsel do not select members of the jury, they deselect those who would be most objectionable to their cause. The catch phrase is “fair and impartial” but defense and prosecution counsel alike are well aware that jurors will bring to bear all of their life experience–and most fear they will also bring to the table their learned prejudices–in deliberations. Your jurors should understand that firearms are tools, not trifles, and that self defense is a valid legal theory, time-tested in the courts. If your jurors respect firearms as valuable, politically-neutral tools that are safe when handled safely, then your attorney has done an excellent job de-selecting prejudice from your jury pool.
John R. Monroe
Attorney at Law
9640 Coleman Rd., Roswell, GA 30075
I think stereotyping is a dangerous practice when applied to jury selection. There are so many variables and subtleties that it is nearly impossible to say what “type” of person I would want. That said, I would look for people that seem bright and understand questions put to them during voir dire. The worst thing you can have is someone who does not pay attention or does not understand the law of self defense as described by the judge.
To avoid alienating a jury, I would want my client to act as “mainstream” and “normal” as possible–before the shooting and up through the trial. It would not help to come off as Rambo-like, to carry a particularly weird gun, to use language unfamiliar to people, or to come off as a gun nut.
During the trial, it is important to be respectful of the jury, to make a good appearance, to make eye contact with the jury without being creepy about it, and to describe the situation (if you testify) in a way they could see themselves in your shoes.
The Network extends a big “Thank you!” to our Affiliated Attorneys for this instructive discussion. Check back next month for more answers from our Affiliated Attorneys on this important question.
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