Personal Injury Lawyer Talks Himself Off Jury Duty

Yesterday I had a pool of 30 jurors. Four of them were lawyers. One tried personal injury cases.

Now you would think that of all people in the world, the ones that try cases would be least likely to say things to deliberately get booted from the jury panel. After all, no one appreciates the need for jurors more than those who work in the well of the courtroom.

But more importantly, the experience of being a juror is one that every attorney should have. You might not learn anything new about law or about trial tactics in a routine matter, but you learn what jurors go through. This potential juror who did mass torts litigation proceeded to say the magic words to get kicked, either because he was too busy, or just too snobby, to sit on a routine trip and fall sidewalk case. (Since jury duty can be deferred a few times for scheduling problems, it was likely unrelated to being too busy.) Deliberately getting kicked off a jury panel is, in my view, a lost opportunity.

I sat once in the late ’90s on a criminal case. And while it was a run-of-the-mill burglary — knocking off a fish truck in broad daylight in midtown Manhattan while being trailed by two undercover cops — and the lawyers weren’t that good, it was an altogether different experience seeing a trial from the jury box. And from the jury room.

No one should ever mistake the inside of a courtroom for the inside of a jury room. And no lawyer should turn down the opportunity to serve.

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