The Jury Is Out – Of It

by Bernard McCormick Tuesday, May 29, 2012 No Comment(s)

Wealthy fellow gets in a bad accident and goes to lawyer.
“Hello Mr. Goodenrich,” the lawyer says. “I have reviewed your case carefully and I must tell you it is a tough one. Your blood alcohol was out of sight, you seem to have been flying, you left the scene of the accident, there were serious consequences and frankly, there is only one thing I like about your case.”
“What’s that, Mr. Lawyer?”
“You’re rich.”
“Well, rank has its privilege.”
“Yes indeed, and we will do the best we can for you. We will try to get a change of venue on the grounds that you have already been tried in the press. That may work. It’s up to the judge. But we will argue you weren’t going that fast, your expensive car malfunctioned, you only had a few drinks, you thought you hit a big snake, and your alcohol level was high only because you drank something after the crash because you were in pain and jumpy and needed something to relax you and you happened to be near and friend’s house who gave you a few drinks. We can argue all of this but there’s only one problem.”
“What’s that?”
“Nobody will believe it. But all is not lost. We can bring in the best expert witnesses to testify that all of these impossible things could happen. But I think your best bet is the jury.”
“How tell?”
“Jury selection is the key to any trial. That’s why we spend so much time on it.  We need to get the right jury, and that will require hiring an expert to get the kind of jurors we need to win this thing, or at least not lose everything. Such experts cost money, but it is our best shot.”
“Mr. Lawyer, you mean we need an expert at jury selection to get some really gullible people?”
“No, Mr. Goodenrich. They could be dumb as ducks and I could be at my usual brilliant best, but they still won’t believe it. No, we need a different kind of juror. We need a juror who wants to be on the jury. Most people don’t. They don’t have the time, or they are prejudiced because their ex was an alky, or they are married to the judge, or their brother lost the same kind of case, or it will cut into their bar time or they’ve been planning a trip to Ireland for years. … They’ll say anything to get off the jury. But we need people who really, really want to be on this jury. It’s our best chance. We need grounds for an appeal, and if the judge doesn’t screw up royally, we got to hope for jury misconduct. And that’s why we need an expert in jury selection. We need somebody who can spot a juror who will screw up and give us a shot at a new trial, which will take time.”
“I see,” Mr. Goodenrich says glumly.           
“You see, my friend, if somebody wants to be on a jury you know something is fishy. You have to ask what is their motive. And suppose their motive is to make money on the case. You know, the O.J. stuff. And maybe they see an advantage in a certain outcome and might try to influence the other jurors, talk about the case, go out of their way to learn stuff out of court. Maybe even write a damned book. That’s not likely to happen, but you never know. My sense is we are going to need an appeal, and all this stuff could be grounds. It’s a long shot, but it’s a shot.”
“So what if we get an appeal?”
“Time. It all takes time. If we lose you might stay out on bail and be under house arrest or whatever, but then we can start all over trying for another trial, and this time we will have more ammunition, citing the stuff the smart-ass columnists write as prejudicial and requiring for a change of venue, to Alaska or some place where everybody is drunk all the time. There’s a lot of stuff we can do.”
“And how much time would we get?”
“Mr. Goodenrich, I will shoot to string it out for 20 years. By then we all may be dead. But it all depends on the right jury. We may need to hire an expert to find us the right jury expert.”

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