November 2013 - Pg 10-Attorney
For that reason I advise those who chose to carry to follow a few simple rules to increase their odds of success should they ever be charged after a self-defense shooting.
Watch how you appear in public. The jury will probably see images of you at the scene, or shortly thereafter, and your clothing may work against you. A vulgar phrase or image on your t-shirt will likely work against you in the eyes of even a sympathetic jury. Likewise, looking like an average Joe or Jane will probably help as jurors put themselves into your shoes. Regardless of how you chose to dress in everyday life, dress for court like your life depends on it, because it does. That means a conservative suit and tie for the men and a very conservative dress for the ladies. Tattoos on the face, neck and hands are a bad idea. Even in this day and age some very parochial opinions are held about body art, including facial piercing. More than one juror has informed me my client’s body art factored into the jury’s deliberation.
Finally, avoid participating in inflammatory language or activity (on social media or otherwise) that could be discovered by the prosecution and possibly be presented to a jury. It may seem innocent when you post a picture online, put a bumper sticker on your vehicle or make a statement in public, but think how a jury might see it. Remember the Internet and Twitter are forever. Think before you post.
Law Offices of Cosmo A. Taormina
17822 17th St., Ste. 205, Tustin, CA 92780
What type of people on a jury?
Cases are won and lost in jury selection. The process of selecting a person that has an open mind, is sympathetic to your client, and will understand and consider all of the nuances and intangibles that are presented in a case cannot be understated.
Nor does it lend itself to a one-sentence answer. As much as every reader hates to hear this, the answer is, “It depends.” It depends on the client, the community, the guy who got shot and a host of other factors that are too numerous to list here.
For example, if the client is a 42-year-old woman, clad in her nightgown and armed with her .38, who shot an intruder, armed with a knife and clad in a ski mask, in her bedroom after he made forced entry into her home at 2:30 a.m., I would opine that there is no juror in the community that could not see the justification in the shooting. It is highly doubtful that a District Attorney would file charges in light of such facts. But those are not the facts that lead to an armed citizen to being prosecuted for a defensive shooting, are they? No, what is far more likely is a vast sea of “gray area” that must be explored before arriving at the correct juror for the case.
Bottom line: a jury is tailor made for each case as the facts, circumstances, and issues dictate. There is no single answer. Be wary of those that operate with a preconceived notion of the “perfect” juror as they have a preconceived theory of the case that may not fit the facts.
How not to alienate the jury before prosecution–
Remain calm and be polite. I know how woefully inadequate that is, but it is very, very important. After a shooting where the adrenaline is pumping, the shock of fighting for your life is wearing off, and the gravity of your decisions are rapidly weighing on your mind, being polite is not high on the priority list and remaining calm is almost impossible. Prepare yourself now. Know what you will say before you have to say it.
Think of it this way, a year or more after the event, a trial will commence. Days of sterile jury selection pass. Motions are made and ruled upon. Opening statements are given and witnesses are called. The prosecution opens its case with its first witness, the 911 operator.