Jury Selection started yesterday, and now continues:
Friday, June 13th. Jury selection drags on the whole day. One of the defense lawyers tries hard to bond with each potential juror. He talks of movies, television shows, the Belmont Stakes, Sydney Sheldon books and anything that may be of interest to the potential jury. I contemplate stopping him with an objection, but decide that the benefits of a backlash against him for dragging this out outweigh the benefits of finishing the selection process quickly. Also, I like to use this stuff in summation, where I remind them that I am here to talk about the case, and only the case, and am not trying to suck up to them or charm them.
A juror tells us he was sued as the owner of a car, when his wife was in an accident. The claimant, he tells us, trumped up the damages. He even saw the guy remove a cervical collar after visiting their home. Since it happened 20 years ago, and he says he says he is still bitter about it, I ask that he be removed for cause. The judge disagrees, and I exercise a peremptory challenge.
I exercise another challenge on a woman who never smiles. While she certainly answered all the questions “correctly,” I make a gut call based on body language.
Another juror has a husband that sells insurance. That is usually a reason to challenge a person for cause. But she works for a child protective services agency, and seems to have a warm and pleasant disposition. She’s the type of person you would feel comfortable talking to, which is important for my client when she needs to open up on the stand. I keep her.
Another juror works for a cancer hospital and helps the dying. Since my client works with the elderly, principally those with Alzheimer’s and dementia, this is a great fit. But she takes herself off the jury saying she can’t be fair. I ask her anyway to expound on why she enjoys her work, since my client enjoys hers and her inability to do her work is a significant part of my case. Since there are many people who don’t enjoy their work, and some may be on the jury and not necessarily believe that there are people that actually enjoy what they do, I’m eager to have someone similar to my client discuss how and why she loves hers so much.
A couple of people indicate that they will give the plaintiff whatever she asks for, since they know she has already won the liability case. These folks get tossed for cause.
Jury selection ends after two days. That was way too long. We are told to come back Tuesday for opening charge, opening statements and witnesses. My plan is to put the two drivers on the stand first and then my client.
Next up: We open and start taking evidence
Addendum — The full series of posts:
Synopsis of the case at my firm’s website