October 2013 - Pg 12-Attorney
It is essential to weed out prospective jurors that typically would not be fair to a defendant who used deadly force with a firearm. Such individuals would ordinarily include individuals who have strong beliefs in favor of gun control, individuals who believe, for moral or religious reasons, that the use of deadly force is inappropriate and not allowable under any circumstance, individuals who, for religious or personal reasons, cannot judge their fellow man in a jury trial setting, and including, but not limited to, individuals who may express a bias or prejudice toward the client due to his/her race, gender, age occupation, etc.
With regard to Marty’s second question, an armed citizen can take several measures in advance of his/her jury trial so as not to alienate members of his/her potential jury pool.
Beyond the initial brief statement to the police that one was involved in a self-defense shooting against an initial aggressor, no elaborate details should be given, as they will be released to the press by the police department or misconstrued by an investigative reporter.
A potential defendant should always dress appropriately for court, even in initial and preliminary matters. Unusual hairdos, facial hair and facial piercings, etc. should be avoided and one’s best appearance must be presented to the public at all times.
The defendant should make no comment to the media at any time prior to the trial of his/her case. Any media statements should be made through counsel, who should be retained immediately after such an incident.
The defendant in a criminal case should avoid social media or any postings of any kind, including text messages, throughout the pendency of his/her case.
The defendant in a criminal case should also conduct him/herself as if he/she were being watched.
Investigative reporters, curiosity seekers and busybodies may be photographing or videoing his/her every move in certain settings such as the grocery store, taverns or shooting ranges and use the footage against the client. The bigger the media exposure in the case, the more difficult this becomes. At all times, the approach to the public in cases of this nature must be one of concern. A defendant in this situation should not discuss the facts of this case with anyone other than his/her attorney so that sensitive information is not leaked to the wrong source. When entering and leaving a courthouse, one must conduct oneself as if he/she is being watched by a prospective juror. All courthouses have windows. All jurors park in various parking garages at the courthouse. You never know when you are going to run into a potential juror. Therefore, the attitude one must always sell in a case of this nature is quiet concern. Jubilant laughter, cigarette smoking, gum chewing, high-fiving friends or relatives and things of that nature are offensive and should not be practiced.
The bottom line in these types of cases is, your life is on the line! Any jury trial is experimental surgery. The client does not want to say or do anything that may jeopardize his/her position in the community that would affect his/her right to receive a fair and impartial jury trial. A competent attorney will guide you through the dos and don’ts in all these stages that are peculiar to your jurisdiction.
What might be appropriate behavior in front of a Los Angeles or Hollywood jury may not do very well in a conservative Midwestern location. I hope this brief response may be of some help on this most important topic.