As criminal trial attorneys, we are on an infinite quest for “The Perfect 12.”
It’s a “quest” because in each case, the search takes on mystic qualities. We believe there is some powerful magic that we can employ to get the perfect juror for our case. But like most quests we encounter (in real life, movies, books), it has no end. It’s infinite. It never feels like we have the perfect jury or even the perfect juror. It’s an unfinished symphony that longs for the final movement.
Ponder for a bit about the techniques we employ to get our Perfect 12. We hire expensive jury consultants, we have our staff or law clerks look up potential jurors on social media, and we scour the jury questionnaires the day before (or morning of) trial—as if our experience will enable us to see beyond the Q and A in black and white.
But for the most part, we operate on instinct. Once the spotlight of the trial is on, we go with our guts. Many times, the “profile” we received from the expensive jury consultant doesn’t match any of the possible jurors in our panel. And too often, the profile is left in our banker’s box or sitting at the counsel table while we question prospective jurors.
The problem, like most conundrums in life, is that we are looking for something that doesn’t exist, at least not completely. Even to the extent the perfect jury is out there waiting to be selected in our next case, we are looking in the wrong place, going about it in all the wrong ways. And finally, we already have what we are looking for.
We should all admit the truth. We hire psychologists, jury consultants, etc. because we want all stones overturned. It may be the case of a lifetime. It may be just an ordinary, everyday misdemeanor. But we want to do these things because we are supposed to do these things.
We are doing everything we can for our client, checking every box. The problem is that the boxes we need to check aren’t even on our page. To really make use of the resources we have prior to trial, we need to know what we are doing. Aimlessly wandering, even in a general direction, is still inefficient.
The real solution is to develop “The Perfect Strategy.” It may well be that there is no perfect. But there is perfect within imperfect. In other words, there is a best strategy for the case. Before focusing on The Perfect 12, we should focus on the Perfect Strategy.
The Method employed by Criminal Defense Consultants is designed to give us the map. The Focus Group steps expose the good, the bad, and the ugly about our strategy options. The Focus Group enables us to utilize all the other resources at our disposal.
Armed with the The Focus Group feedback, the jury consultant report has meaning. It’s not just a box-checker. We can actually use it with confidence as we embark on our quest for “The Perfect 12.”
The point is that we need a point. There is no perfect jury in the real world. They are all imperfect. We are looking for something that doesn’t exist in places where we won’t find it anyway. We need to re-define our quest. The search in every criminal trial is not for The Perfect 12. It’s for the perfect strategy. The Perfect Theory. Then, when we are standing in front of our panel, we have confidence and authority. We speak with logic and reason. And we know the emotional impact of our case. The Method–The Focus Group—has led there. Now we can pick “The Perfect 12”—at least until the next case.
Stephen E. Palmer
Criminal Defense Consultants