You have a case on negligence. You successfully laid the understanding of that definition with your jurors. What now? Are you going to let them meander around the countryside hoping they find your cabin in the woods? I don’t think so. You need to lead them home; you need to establish leadership with the jurors.
The big picture is that jurors are humans and have human emotions and biases. Let this guide your opening argument. Practice thinking like a juror, not like a lawyer.
Our research at First Court has given us key insights into how the average person responds to corporations and lawyers. Take the following points into your next jury trial:
- Goal of Opening: Winning the emotional right to lead the jury.
The average person is not accustomed to seeing the great tragedy and sufferings that cases tend to entail. Legal teams tend to forget this. Set up your arguments in your opening so that jurors see you as caring and in touch with the plaintiff individual.
- What to do with your leadership? Your leadership should have one goal: to focus the trial and the jurors on causation and compensatory damages. The defense can bring home a huge win by properly focusing here. It will take supreme discipline to walk away from covering all the bases. But you cannot be two-faced: take responsibility and lead the jury to a fair damage award OR make every legal argument–and face the likelihood of a nuclear verdict. You choose.
- Don’t embrace losing arguments. Stay away from them! To win the leadership struggle the legal team must avoid any and every argument that irritates the jury. In a 23-person private trial the jurors were asked:
“What would your reaction be if the corporation being blamed for this injury claimed the plaintiff did not suffer pain as a result of their actions?”
There were only 4 jurors who thought that was appropriate for the case and the other 19 said it “bothered/irritated” them. The numbers speak very clearly. To maintain the leadership of the jury you must be very conscientious not to come across as unaware or uncaring towards the plaintiff’s pain and suffering.
- S*** happens, sometimes to people. There are extraneous circumstances that can distract from the fundamental questions. For example, addiction. Many jurors can have strong feelings towards this or similar situations. It is effective for you to blame the addiction for the addiction’s effects whereas blaming the person can minimize the empathy you get from jurors. Show that you are in the business of fighting addiction. Embrace this mission. It is morally good for the legal team to blame the addiction and to be saddened by what addiction does to so many good people. Showing the jurors that you have real compassion for a person suffering addiction can go a long way towards winning the right to lead the jury.
We hope you can benefit from the above experience. If you would like more, please visit our website at firstcourt.com or connect with us via phone or email!