Saturday, May 14, 2011


Ever see those high profile cases on t.v. in which the affluent defendant hires an expert to help with jury selection? They furiously whisper into counsel's ear, as they study each potential juror's demeanor during voir dire. A hidden microphone might pick up such analytical tips  as:

"I like the way he walks--as if the ground is uneven."( In actuality, one leg was shorter than the other.)

"There's something about him that catches my eye." (The gentleman's fly was open.)

"I don't trust her." (The lady's B.O.P. sheet reflected four convictions for embezzlement.)

Suffice it to say, I believe this alleged science falls far short of legal reliability.
There are, however, rare moments that provide valuable insight as to the mind of a juror.

I was trying a case in Chicago, Federal District Court. It was the third week of intense adversarial litigation.  As always, the Judge had admonished the attorneys as to how to conduct themselves, should they inadvertently encounter a juror  when court was not in session: make no eye contact and, of course, no conversation. Routine stuff.

One afternoon, during a recess, I visited the Men's Room.
I positioned myself at the urinal, when I heard sounds coming from my immediate right. They were musical in nature. It was a song. The melody was sheer improvisation, but the words were clearly discernible. They were sung in a light and cavalier mode.

Everything's gonna be alright; everything's gonna be o.k. 

The refrain was repeated in a deliberate, but oh- so- friendly manner.
I slowly turned towards the adjacent stall. It was a juror.
Remembering the Judge's instructions, I straightened my gaze and stood frozen in place. I had long since finished my business, but pretended to attempt a world's record in self-flushing until, at long last, the juror zipped up, washed his hands, and proceeded to the door.
As he was exiting, I heard, for the third time, that memorable melody which, to this day, remains engraved in my heart:

Everything's gonna be alright; everything's gonna be o.k.

As the door closed, I hurriedly patted my tie onto my chest and buttoned my suit jacket.
No, no, no---a well intentioned reflex, but one that missed the mark. I pulled (gotta finish this sentence, fast ) myself together (whew!) and bolted to share this heavenly clue with my co-counsels.
That evening, we drank more than ate.

The jury was out for a mere thirty minutes. Guilty on all counts.

Go figure. That's the point. Nobody can.


  1. What experiences you've had. Keep sharing.

  2. "Everything's gonna be alright; everything's gonna be o.k." perhaps - but not for this defendant(s).