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What Experts Look for When Picking a Jury

The jury of 12 strangers who decided the fate of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin were carefully selected by the prosecution and the defense.  Chauvin was found guilty on all charges in the murder of George Floyd. Prosecutors told the jury that Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, depriving him of oxygen. Of the five men and seven women on the jury, six were white, four were Black and two were multiracial, according to court information. Even before the verdict was announced, Chicago jury consultant Alan Tuerkheimer felt the prosecution had a “good jury.” “I look at the experiences of the jurors. I look at their backgrounds. I look at their occupations and a couple of things that they’ve said. And it seems like a pretty good jury for the prosecution,” he said.  An empty jury box at the New York State Civil Supreme Court in New York City, September 11, 2020.A key part of jury selection is trying to predict which potential jurors will emerge as leaders once the deliberations begin.  “Who’s going to just kind of sit back and let other people talk? Who’s going to take charge, and who’s going to try to build consensus?” Tuerkheimer said. “You can tell sometimes in voir dire (the process of determining a person’s suitability to serve on the jury) who has a strong personality, and so the calculus in your mind — no matter what side you’re working for — is, ‘OK, this juror is going to have influence in deliberation. I’d better make sure that they’re not going to be against me, because it’s a risk.’” While each case is different, there is one type of potential juror that most experts aim to avoid, Tuerkheimer says, and that’s the candidate who’s a little too eager to sit on a jury or goes to great lengths to hide that enthusiasm.  “That’s what you have to be careful of. It’s called a stealth juror, where somebody, they try to fly under the radar. You just have to listen to what they say very carefully. See if they seem like they have an agenda. See if anybody’s too eager to serve on a jury. That’s a red flag,” he said.

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