Recently, our Firm tried a case where the Plaintiff alleged a traumatic brain injury. The Plaintiff’s attorney on the other side (very competent) had a sympathetic witness, and a well-known expert to say that the Plaintiff had a traumatic brain injury. Likewise, our client was a very nice lady and we had (in my humble opinion) a fairly good expert ourselves.
After three days of trial, the jury returned a verdict with which we were quite pleased. However, the verdict is not what was so important. Rather, what was important – and educational – was the 45 minutes that all of the lawyers spent back in the jury room talking with three or four jurors who were willing to share their thoughts with us after they had returned their verdict.
Here, then, are the four things that the jurors told us (and, if I am honest, I re-learned):
1. Be nice. While jurors may think that all cases should go like an episode of Law and Order, they do expect the lawyers to treat everyone with respect. And remember, at any given time, at least three of the jurors are watching you to see how you interact with others. Barking at your staff during trial and then trying to appear likeable to the jury doesn’t end well.
2. Get to the point. Several of the jurors that we visited with made the comment that both sides kept repeating points that the jurors had gotten the first time. As one of the jurors told us, “Listen, we got it the first time you said it. You didn’t have to say it seventeen other times.”
3. Visit with the jury, don’t talk down to the jury. Several jurors mentioned that they did not like when they felt that lawyers were talking down to them like they were idiots. Jurors expect lawyers to be advocates; however, they don’t have much of a stomach for being lectured to or spoken to in a stern tone of voice.
4. Don’t just tell me, show me. Every one of the jurors we visited with commented about how much they appreciated each side using trial software which allowed exhibits to be put up on a screen. All of the jurors talked about how the PowerPoint presentations helped them retain information. So don’t just talk, show.
So as you prepare for your next jury trial, remember, don’t be a jerk, don’t beat a dead horse, lose the condescension, and be a visual teacher. Good hunting!