Communicating with your Jury the Indirect Way is important too

At different stages of a trial, the trial attorney gets to directly address the Jury, but you have to mindful of the indirect communication that is constantly occurring throughout the trial between the attorney and the Jury. This is the second part of our series on communication techniques and tips for the trial attorney.

Throughout the trial, always show utmost respect and courtesy toward the jury and the judge. Jurors expect it and anything less will offend the jury, even if the judge overlooks the missteps that will occur in the heat of a trial.

A level of “professional” courtesy and respect should always be shown to your opponent and all other persons in the courtroom. This is not the same thing as “utmost” courtesy and respect. Jurors know that in a civil lawsuit the two sides do not agree on something and are fighting each other over it, with the expectation that it commonly involves money.

The result is that the jury expects to see a fight. A courteous and professional fight with words, yes, but a fight nonetheless.

Control your communication with the jury. A trial is about the evidence and witnesses that are presented to the jury for their consideration. Although it should not be about the attorneys or their personal styles, human beings can not help but notice and, at times, be influenced by nonessential and extraneous information. At all times, control your dress, style and mannerisms.

If the jury thinks you are not genuine and sincere with others in the courtroom, then they may not accept your evidence as genuine and sincere - or as truthful. The result is that you may have great difficulty communicating your evidence to the jury in an accepting manner. And that indirect, subtle communication may have occurred without the attorney being fully aware of it at all.

Next time we'll talk about the direct communication with the Jury that occurs in a trial, starting with the Voir Dire questioning of the prospective jurors - where the jury gets their first view and impressions of the attorneys in the case. And the Judge.

Ron Burdge
Helping lawyers win cases for over 25 years.