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Impanelment

I have been struck by how eager jurors are to serve. Jurors are engaged. They make eye contact with the attorneys during opening statements. When a witness is on the stand, they look at the witness and listen to his or her words. I have also noticed that jurors seem especially intrigued by visual aids. At the trial of one case, the prosecutor was standing at the witness box asking the witness some foundational questions that the rules of evidence require to be asked before certain images (including photos, maps, or diagrams) can be introduced as exhibits or visual aids. The attorney was holding a series of photographs behind her back while she laid the foundation for their introduction. I noticed one of the jurors seated closest to the witness box craning her neck and visibly straining to glimpse the photos in the attorney’s hands. She finally stretched so far out of her seat that her body was halfway out of the jury box.

Most trial attorneys and judges will tell you that you can never predict the way that jurors will interpret a case. Further, because the secrecy of jury deliberations is so closely guarded, none of us can really know what specifically influenced the jurors. The judges talk to the jurors after the verdict in the jury room; the attorneys are not permitted to speak to jurors. However, I have attended numerous seminars where judges speak about what works before a jury and what does not. The common wisdom is that jurors do not need repetition, that they appreciate courtesy, and that, as with any presentation, clarity is valued.

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