When prospective jurors walk into the courtroom, they only know one thing for sure: the courtroom is His/Her Honor’s private reserve, and the Judge’s word is law. Everything about the physical layout of the courtroom says “In this room, the Judge is Top Dog, and whatever they say is set in stone.” The Judge sits higher than everyone else. All must rise upon the Judge’s entrance, and may only be seated when told to do so. And whatever the Judge says, however erudite or nonsensical it may seem, becomes “what is” in that Courtroom.
So, imagine my surprise when I observe lawyers go directly against a Judge’s “what I expect in my courtroom.” I know, from years of experience, that jurors, whether prospective or empaneled, ding any lawyer who fails to respect a Judge’s stated orders. The most common failure is the failure to respect time. For example, the Judge says “Your mini-opening will be two minutes, no longer.” The lawyer launches into their mini-opening, the two-minute mark is hit, the Judge cuts the lawyer off – sometimes, mid-word. The lawyer, hurt and surprised, sits down. The prospective jurors look coldly at the lawyer. They heard the rule, why couldn’t the lawyer obey it?
You see, prospective jurors MUST appear when summoned, MUST be on time, MUST turn off their mobile devices, MUST sit where told to sit, and the list goes on. When the Judge tells you what you MUST do, you’re well advised to do it. Failure to do so makes you disrespectful in prospective jurors’ eyes, and less worthy of their consideration. Much harder to convince.
Since your jurors are within that pool of prospective jurors, abiding by the Judge’s edicts right from the git-go is the easiest, quickest way to get their approval.
Start off on the right foot with your jurors, and you have a much better chance of ending on the right foot.