How to Work with a Jury for a Favorable Verdict
The right to a jury trial is one of the most well-known rights that a criminal defendant has in the United States. Jury trials are also available in civil cases, if they are requested by an attorney. Generally, there are 2 types of trials available: bench trials and jury trials. A jury trial is tried by members of the public who are summoned for jury duty, and the number of jurors can vary, depending on state law and the type of case that is being heard. A bench trial is tried in front of a judge or magistrate. For plaintiffs who are suing for money damages in negligence cases, a judge is actually more likely to find that the plaintiff has been damaged by the defendant's negligence. However, juries tend to award larger verdicts.
One of the advantages of a jury trial is that most jurors have a fresh perspective--they are not familiar with the attorneys for either side and many have never watched a trial before. Emotions can play a large part in a jury trial. Every part of a witness's demeanor, appearance, and testimony is likely to be weighed by the jury, as the jury attempts to discern the credibility of the witness and how the testimony fits into the greater picture during the trial.
Many people have never testified in a courtroom before and may be nervous. A simple way to help alleviate this feeling is to travel to the courtroom prior to the day that the trial is scheduled to begin. Being familiar with the way that the courtroom looks, where the witnesses are going to be sitting and testifying, where the jury box is, and where the attorneys will sit or stand while questioning witnesses can alleviate some of the nervousness and uncertainty for many witnesses. However, there is no way to prepare for everything that can happen in a jury trial. Even though most of the evidence is exchanged between attorneys for both sides during a process called "discovery," surprises can still come up during the trial. In fact, many attorneys use surprise tactics to take witnesses off guard and elicit testimony that is favorable to their side or unfavorable to the opposing side.
Juries are very concerned with credibility of witnesses, and opposing lawyers will typically try to discredit witnesses who are unfavorable to their side. Juries are very observant about whether to believe a witness or not, based on the witness's credibility. This can be based on very minute details, such as the witness's demeanor, inconsistent statements, and cross-examination by opposing counsel. Many witnesses attempt to bolster their testimony by lying about facts that they believe are unfavorable to their case. However, this is the worst thing that a witness can do in a courtroom. One reason is that lying under oath is a crime known as perjury and can be prosecuted with harsh penalties for the witness. Another reason is that lying about some facts can discredit the witness's entire testimony, even if the details are not essential to the case. In front of a jury, it is extremely important to be very truthful.
Attorneys should advise clients that their statements should be consistent from the very start of an investigation, through deposition and the trial. Any statements that are inconsistent can be used to impeach, i.e. discredit, the witness. If witnesses cannot remember what happened during an event, "I don't remember" is an acceptable answer, and it is usually better for a witness to admit a failure of memory than to try to recount events that they are uncertain about. Witnesses should also make sure to speak clearly so that their statements can be recorded by the court reported. Nodding or shaking of one's head is clear to a person who can see the witness, but this type of gesture cannot be recorded in words and should be avoided for the sake of clarity.
Another factor that can come into play during a jury trial is the witness's appearance. Witnesses should dress conservatively. For men, this typically means a suit and tie, to show respect for the court and the jury. Women should not wear clothing that is too revealing and should avoid too much makeup, perfume or flashy jewelry. Dark colors are usually favorable to bright colors. The most important thing about the witness's appearance at the trial is the witness's words, or testimony, and the witness should not run the risk of wearing flashy clothing that distracts from the content of the testimony.
Jury trials can be exciting because juries tend to be unpredictable. One of the most important parts is void dire, or jury selection. During this process, attorneys try to eliminate jurors who could be biased and get those that will decide favorably on the jury.
The Romano Law Group is a group of the best lawyers in Florida. Operating out of west palm beach, reach out to them if you have a case that you want represented by the best palm beach personal injury lawyer in the business.