By Hon. (Ret.) Ken E. Adair
Video Transcribed: Hi, I’m Ken Adair. I’m a people’s lawyer and I’m a retired judge. And I’m going to talk to you about civil voir dire in this continuing series on civil voir dire. Today, I want to talk to you a little bit about your demeanor toward jurors. I’ve seen it happen in many contexts. I’ve done some longer videos about certain contexts, like the hot coffee case and situations like that where lawyers want to educate jurors about these horrible burns that a woman got from the hot coffee case. And they want to argue with the jurors. You never argue.
You never condescend. You never lecture, demean. You never interrogate. You never cross-examined jurors ever, ever, never, ever, ever. The meanest juror I’ve ever encountered. I’ve done a video about her. She was a mean juror and she tried to embarrass me and humiliate me.
And I just never did anything but show her respect and kindness because man, she knew I didn’t want to hear this stuff and she said it anyway. And whether she thought she was being a jerk or thought she was being courageous, I just treated it as courage because I didn’t want to get in a fight with her, and the other jurors kind of rallied around me, and they kind of leaned away from her.
But you never engage in this kind of condescension with the jurors. When I was a kid, I used to, I’ve told people many times that before there was the programming of computers, my dad would program the computer and the enter button was right here. And he’d tell me something you understand. Right?
And then he poked me. Does he say you got a problem with that? And he poked me and he gave me a command. You do this, poke. It was the enter button. And he’d sit there. And my dad was military and he would sit there and poke me in the chest and yell at me.
And I’ve seen lawyers that will sit there and say, do you have a problem with that? Now, you know the law says this. Now, do you have a problem with that? Do you understand that if this happens, you’ve got to do this? Do you have a problem with that? And so it’s very condescending.
It’s very looking down your nose at people. The biggest mistake I see is about demeanor. It doesn’t matter what the words are. The demeanor is you walk out there and you say, hi, I’m a lawyer. You don’t use these words, but your body language has hi, I’m a lawyer.
I’m smart. I’m smarter than you. But if you listen to me, by the end of it all, you’ll understand and you’ll see it my way and you’ll rule in my favor. And so just pay attention to me, all you lowly jurors. And just listen to me because I need to act like I’m in control of this room.
I know I’m not, but I got to act like I am because I read that somewhere or I saw that in a seminar somewhere. That doesn’t work. You look down your nose at the jury, you’ve got an uphill climb. You might win, but you got an uphill climb. So never condescend, never lecture, never look down your nose at these jurors, ever.
There’s never a need for it. I can prove it to you. If you hang in there and you pay attention and you watch, you’ll understand. It’s just never appropriate to do that. I hope this has been a little bit helpful. I look forward to talking to you more. This has been trial lawyer Ken Adair. If you are looking for co-counsel services or an experienced jury consultant, visit trial.win.