Right after the jury’s verdict has been recorded, the trial judge will tell the jurors that now they are free to discuss the case with anyone, including trial counsel. Don’t miss the chance to have these postverdict chats — they are very useful and may even be crucial.
Getting juror feedback can be invaluable, particularly if defense counsel is contemplating a motion for new trial based on juror misconduct or if there has been a mistrial. Both sides can benefits from what jurors thought of their trial presentation.
Of course, you need to be open, friendly, calm, and an active listener to get the information needed from the jurors. Here are some open-ended questions you may want to ask the jurors:
- What were the two or three key portions of the evidence (witness, exhibit, etc.) that led you to the verdict? or Why did you find [the Defendant] guilty/liable?
- Who was the most important witness? Why?
- What did you find believable from each side’s case? Why?
- What was not believable from each side’s case? Why?
- What evidence could each side have produced that would have changed your verdict?
- What could I have done better as a lawyer in this case?
- What was the best thing that the successful side did in terms of being able to convince you to vote guilty/liable?
Always keep a professional tone in these communications. Remember, you don’t have a right to talk to jurors and the trial judge will have instructed them that they don’t have to speak with you.
Juror feedback is an unmatched opportunity; it may not always be easy to hear what they have to say, but if you take it as constructive criticism, it can really up your game in court.
On post-verdict juror interviewing, go to CEB’s California Criminal Law Procedure and Practice §29.59.
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