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Using Political Polarization to Your Advantage During Voir Dire

Kenneth J. Lopez, J.D.
By: Kenneth J. Lopez, J.D.

Jury Questionnaire, Trial Consultants, Jury Consulting, Mock Trial, Litigation Consulting, Juries, Jury Consultants, Voir Dire, Jury Selection, Psychology, Cognitive Bias

Happy Super Tuesday in a presidential election year.

Conventional wisdom tells us that America is more divided than ever. I think that is overstating things, but people certainly do seem dug into their belief systems these days. No amount of facts, data, or education will cause some people to change their minds about certain topics.

And this is a great thing -- IF you're involved in jury selection.

The entirety of human knowledge acquired over the last 100,000 years can be accessed in seconds using a device you always have with you. But if you  believe something about carrying handguns, nuclear power, vaccines, or climate change, the chances are that no amount of data, study, or expert opinion will change your mind about that topic.

If you're a potential juror and that bias happens to be in favor of the client we support, this is fantastic news. Such a juror will (subconsciously) selectively choose evidence that favors our client using confirmation bias or motivated reasoning. This is where being polarized into one camp or another gets interesting.

When it comes to A2L's jury consulting work involving voir dire and jury selection, one of our primary goals is to discover a potential juror's bias. We also want to understand how a particular bias might affect our client. We want to, of course, deselect those jurors who would be biased against our client, and, just as importantly, not do anything to expose those jurors biased in our favor.

In this era of polarization and in an election year, there is a useful shortcut -- one's political beliefs. So, ask about them, at least indirectly. For the most part, if I know you mostly watch MSNBC or Fox News or whether you love or loathe Rachel Maddow or Sean Hannity, I can make some reasonably reliable inferences about your biases. We have discussed these and other approaches to voir dire and handling bias in the free A2L Consulting articles and publications like those listed below. 

A2L Consulting Voir Dire Consultants Handbook


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