The Situationist

Jury Selection

Posted by The Situationist Staff on March 25, 2007


Matt Hutson, a news editor at Psychology Today, e-mailed us about an article of his in the magazine’s current issue. We thought the e-mail (and the article) worth sharing with our readers. (Thanks, Matt.)

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. . . [The article] examines the methods, efficacy, and ethics ofjury selection consulting, which is sometimes branded as a science but often more closely resembles a dark art.

Legendary attorney Clarence Darrow once argued, “Almost every case has been won or lost when the jury is sworn.” In the most important trend- and precedent-setting cases, attorneys leave nothing to chance. A trial of one’s peers? Nah. Jury consulting rakes in hundreds of millions of dollars a year, a significant portion of which goes to stacking the jury. Consultants stage mock trials, do drive-bys of potential jurors’ homes, and enlist body-language experts to intuit potential jurors’ moods, personalities, and deepest secrets. (Stealth 1995 OJ Verdict Time Coverjurors–the ones secretly plotting to push an agenda or nab a book deal, are notoriously hard to weed out.)

For this story, I interviewed the top-dollar consultants who helped select the juries for the trials involving OJ Simpson, Scott Peterson, Rodney King, Ken Lay, Vioxx, and other big clients. One of these gurus, Jo-Ellan Dimitrius, has even been personally blamed for the LA riots. Yes, the practice of jury selection is evolving, becoming more rigorous and sophisticated thanks to social scientists and statisticians–but it’s still largely based on gut and chance. And sometimes all it takes is a juror with hemorrhoids to throw off your whole game.

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For the complete article, click here.

3 Responses to “Jury Selection”

  1. Abi said

    Thanks for posting great stuff, and for giving us links to other great stuff elsewhere!

    Just wanted to point out that the link (at the end of your post) to the article is broken. The one at the beginning works, though.

  2. […] The Situationist Blog: Psychology Today has a lengthy article by news editor Matthew Hutson on the psychology of jury […]

  3. […] have been a few articles recently looking at jury selection and the effect it can have on the decision of that jury. In […]

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