What is a jury trial and how do I win!Many people have never seen the inside of a courtroom, and so therefore are unfamiliar with the jury process and the jury system. Television is not an accurate depiction. It is a dynamic, constantly changing environment filled with anxiety and confidence.
Either party can demand a jury trial in most civil matters. A jury trial is composed of four segments. The Voir dire is the segment that questions jurors on their bias and their ability to be neutral and fair. The opening statement allows each party, through their attorney, to describe the evidence that they intend to introduce, and the facts and circumstances that give rise to liability. The trial consists of the actual evidence producing events, through live testimony and introduction of materials, records and photographs. Finally, closing arguments, as we know too well from movies, presents the opportunity for each party to give a final speech on what the evidence showed and why that party should win.
Interestingly, most experienced trial attorneys will tell you that your case is won or lost in voir dire and opening statement not a moving and eloquent closing argument. You may be asking why that is true? Click on this discussion of primacy to find out. You may find my movie analogies entertaining.
The initial concepts and theme of your case is delivered to the juror in the voir dire and opening statement. You want the jurors to learn of your case and agree with your position early. Don’t you put your strongest arguments first to convince any person of the merit of your points. Then you can build on that consensus later in the discussion. This is equally true in a trial.
Of course the other side is trying to do the same thing. They will forward their strongest points in response to yours and try to convince the jury that the Plaintiff is wrong in the assessment of evidence. In theory, both parties should gain no advantage until evidence is presented. But in practicality, that is not the case. Primacy of your theme and points will help you gain a material advantage.
Once the evidence portion of the trial commences, the parties go through an exchange of proof. A party calling a witness will conduct a direct examination of information important to their case. The other party may then cross examine the witness to test the witnesses’ honesty, and ability to see, hear or comprehend the testimony they are giving.
After each party is given an opportunity to present their evidence, then the attorneys give a closing argument. Rarely is this closing so powerful that jurors change their minds. Usually they have already found evidence compelling them to think a feel a certain way and the closing argument confirms their suspicions and conclusions. That is not to say that a closing argument cannot be persuasive on other matters where evidence has not bee directly produced, such as the amount of damages to award and the reason for the award. However, on liability and certain portions of damage arguments, the successful attorney sets out their theories and arguments during the testimony phase of the case.
The jury is then asked, after being instructed on the applicable law, to make a decision on liability and damages. The only unfortunate reality of a trial in a personal injury case is the serious costs of bringing an action to trial. Experts and fees take money and many are denied a fair trial if they have no money and no attorney that believes in their case.
If you would like our firm to consider your case for trial, call us for a free consultation. We will provide you with our opinion of success and take your case if it meets with our criteria for trial. Call us a 1 888 752-7474 for a free consultation.