August 01, 2012

Understanding Jurors' Nonverbal Communication

Dr. Jeffrey Frederick

From Mastering Voir Dire and Jury Selection, Chapter 3

Objectives:

  • To explore how jurors reveal their opinions and biases in their nonverbal behaviors.
  • To understand the importance of deviations from normal patterns of communication.
  • To develop strategies for utilizing nonverbal communication in jury selection.

To evaluate potential jurors’ opinions and biases, it is important to be aware of what jurors are telling us beyond the answers they give to questions posed during the course of voir dire. As we shall see in Chapter 5, the way that voir dire is normally conducted inhibits candor and openness on the part of potential jurors. In addition, there is evidence that potential jurors may seek to deceive lawyers through their answers to questions posed to them.1 Thus, while the jury selection process places a premium on the information jurors provide, strict reliance on the content of jurors’ answers may not reveal the jurors’ true feelings and opinions.

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