So here I am, sitting in the back of the classroom with a laptop. My co-instructor Attorney Jim Fleming and I are teaching a CLE (continuing legal education) course geared for attorneys, on the topic of self-defense cases. Jim is talking about jury selection.
Some of his advice is counterintuitive, but hell, if trial law was all intuitive, no one would need continuing training, would they? And some in the audience are shocked when he says that as a criminal defense lawyer, he LOVES to have cops on his clients’ juries. Of course, this is 180 degrees counter to conventional wisdom. If the game is cops and robbers and your client has been cast in the role of the accused robber, wouldn’t a member “of the other team” be the LAST person you wanted on your jury?
Jim explains that police officers mediate disputes almost daily, from two angry drivers at an accident scene to spouses in mortal rage when the officers arrive to break up a “domestic.” They’re attuned to listening to both sides. During voir dire, the jury selection process, he’ll make a point of asking any cops in the jury pool if they can be fair to someone other cops have arrested. He has found over the decades that these cops can be the most scrupulous of jurors…and other jurors, having heard this discussion with them, are reminded of their own duty to be fair and impartial.
Many of you reading this have served jury duty yourselves. What are your thoughts and observations on this topic? If you were, let’s say, charged or sued after a self-defense shooting, who would you want on – and off! – the jury that judged you?