Written by attorney Raffi Manuelian

Who To Pick For Your Jury Trial

While doing my thesis for my Masters program, I was fortunate to be able to interview hundreds of jurors and study the socio-economic and racial influences between a juror and defendant. What I found was that each allegation which is being charged has a different jury make-up. To put it in a simple analogy: Not every salad is the same. There is the Cobb salad, Greek salad and so on. The same is for a jury trial. A rape and murder trial will have a different makeup.

Would you have the same jury makeup in a murder case as you would in a rape case?

Statistics and research show that women tend to be more critical of other women - especially hispanic women. In a rape trial you want women, especially women who are culturally integrated with the Hispanic culture. These same studies show not only are Hispanic women harsher on other women who accuse males of rape, but also have a higher tendency not to call law enforcement when they were victims themselves. These crimes included domestic violence and rape. In those cultures, some factors considered by Hispanic female victims of abuse by a male were: (1) privacy (2) stigma of victim (3) fear of retaliation from aggressor (4) shift of blame to victim (5) fear of loss of income. Men seem to be more harsh on the male. The data tends to show men tend to believe the victim more than women. Therefore, when picking a jury for a rape case, look for a minority female whose culture frowns upon women who call the police to handle a "family issue."

Voire Dire

This is your time to pick your jury. A wrong pick can mean you threw away your case before it even got started. Don't use this time to educate your jury or get them to like you. Your only goal is to pick your chess pieces to beat your opponent. The chess pieces are there, you just have to know how to identify them. For example, in a case of where the victim is the police officer (Ex. Resisting Arrest charge), you want to strike any juror with a remote relationship with a police officer. I've picked jurors with friends who were police officers only to regret it in the end. I've found that they harbor an affinity to police officers which they neglect to disclose during jury selection. Sometimes these are jurors with an agenda. Either way, don't risk it! Their are plenty of other great jurors waiting to get picked.

Quick Tips

If your not sure who to pick, try to pick young jurors, they tend to be more open-minded. Most minorities could be picked where it is a male-female crime. Persons who are integrated in the Asian culture with very little or no assimilation in the American culture will have a much higher percentage to find a defendant guilty than another minority. This is not being written to offend the Asian community, rather to identify the socio-economic and cultural differences and stigmas jurors harbor. To think that a juror will tell you the truth about themselves is naive and will do your client a great injustice. Look behind the veil by asking the right questions. More importantly, listen to their answer. If you still don't know, use your best judgment.

Remember, picking a jury is the only opportunity you have to interview the 12 people who will potentially let your client go free. Treat this as like a job-interview. You need 12 people who will, more likely than not, find your client not-guilty. Your job is to find them.

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