This morning, I began a trial in Troy, Michigan. I started the case staring at the prosecutor who was handling the case. Before we started jury selection, he turned to me and asked, “what are we doing here, Neil?” I smiled and replied, “starting a trial.” He seemed stunned, “I’ll offer your client a plea under advisement”, the offer of a plea that would be dismissed after a period of probation. I wondered to myself, “is he for real?” This was a case in which a woman called 911 to report a crime that she says her husband committed but there were NO signs nor ANY evidence of a crime when the police showed up.” NONE. ZIP. ZERO. ZILCH.
The prosecutor seemed so focused on the fact that he was proceeding with the case that he ignored whether he had a case or whether he should. I rejected that offer. I rejected every offer and we proceeded to trial, jury selection.
I am always amazed by the lawyers who talk to juries like they have no life experiences prior to coming to court. These lawyers cross examine the prospective jurors. They do not talk with the lawyers . . . they talk at them. It is largely ineffective.
I try to talk to them. To have a conversation with them. That’s it . . . a conversation with them. To respect them as individuals. Sometimes we have a few laughs. Sometimes there are awkward moments but the conversations are real. I always learn about myself during these moments and I learn about the jurors as well. I wish that lawyers would change the way they talk to jurors. Their clients would benefit so