Jurors United? Something to Consider During Jury Selection

The jurors in the Drew Peterson case are drawing some media attention. While it seems to be out of a movie (Runaway Jury, in fact), the jurors coordinated clothing for a month during the trial. One day it was yellow, another day blue, another day green. Some days it was business suits and other days sports teams jerseys. They have also alternated red, white, and blue, in what may or may not be a sign of patriotism. Without talking to the jurors, no one really knows what this all means. Some say it means the jurors are not taking their jobs seriously. I would doubt that from my multitudes of interviews with jurors, a great majority of whom took their jobs very seriously. What it does show, regardless of the message, is that the jurors are united and getting along.

Does that mean there will be a verdict? Possibly. The odds are higher that there will be a verdict when jurors unite than when there is dissent amongst them. But it is possible that they all get along wonderfully yet disagree on some parts of the evidence or the law.

There is one lesson to point out in this. When you pick a jury, be conscious of the dynamics of the group rather than only focusing on individual jurors. If you want a hung jury, try to put clashing personalities on the jury together. If you want a cohesive group who is more likely to reach a verdict, try to get jurors whose personalities and backgrounds mesh well. Jurors form relationships over the period of a trial and just like any relationship in life, it can be harmonious or tumultuous. Spouses that fight all the time rarely make any decisions together. The same goes for jurors.

What will the verdict be in the Peterson trial? Only time will tell. But I would place money on the fact that if there are disagreements in that jury room, they are being worked out in a civilized fashion with respect for the system and each other.

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Filed under Jury Research, Trial preparation, Voir Dire

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