Monday, August 23, 2010

Hunting for the hold-out

Most folks will hold to an opinion until a tipping point has been reached and their opinion is no longer a popular belief. Rare is the person who holds on to that opinion even when it seems that everyone else has moved to another position. Finding that person in a jury panel is one of the most challenging tasks for lawyers and jury consultants.

Roy Futterman of DOAR Litigation Consulting is paid by people to find the six or twelve most favorable people in a jury panel. He looks at a potential juror's education, employment data, marriage status and answers to voir dire questions to come to his conclusions.

Now making decisions based strictly on the information provided on the court's juror information card leaves you exercising old stereotypes when making your strikes. The information is useful but certainly not enough to come to any conclusions about how that juror would react. Adding in the juror's answers to questions helps you make a better judgment -- but only if you ask the right types of questions.

While Mr. Futterman says he can make educated guesses at the types of jurors who might be good or bad for a client, he can't pick out the potential hold-out jurors. He did say that a hold-out juror tends to be very confident in his opinion as well as someone who might have concerns about sitting in judgment of another person.

Being able to spot that person may be the difference in a conviction and a mistrial.

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