With the advent of online jury selections, many attorneys are wondering how the online selections are different from in person selections. They are different in a number of ways:
Keeping Track of Who Is In the “Box”
In the courtroom, you’re used to seeing all of the jurors that you’re questioning in and around the jury box. In online jury selections, it’s much harder to accomplish. But, there are ways you can prepare. First, you’ll need a large monitor that has a webcam mounted to the top of it. Next, if you’re using Zoom, you can change the video layout for a custom Gallery View. Once the first, let’s say 18, jurors are identified, individual counsel or the court clerk can arrange the potential jurors’ thumbnail pictures according to their order in the virtual “box.”
Making Objections to Questioning
Some of the issues related to doing an online jury selection can only be discovered by doing an online jury selection. For instance, in an effort to prevent the waiting jurors from interrupting questioning, a clerk in an asbestos trial muted the microphones for all participants. The questioning attorney and the judge were unmuted. The problem with that is that opposing counsel could not make objections to questioning because they couldn’t unmute their own mics. Plan ahead with the court staff to make sure the host knows which participants should remain unmuted throughout questioning.
Sidebars & Breakout Rooms
We’ve worked on a couple of Zoom jury selections. Both times we’ve observed the exclusion of some members of the trial team in sidebars, or in their side’s private breakout rooms. Verify with the court clerk and whomever else might be managing the breakout rooms that they will include all members of your team. You’ll also need to make sure that your team members have their displayed names the same way you did in the list to the host of the session.
Reliable Backchannel Communications
One of the benefits on doing a jury selection online is that your entire team can exchange information behind the scenes, in the moment. Using a platform like Slack or other web-based chat programs can be key in that process. Make sure the communication platform is reliable and accessible to all members of your team and support staff. This is the best way to stay in contact throughout voir dire. With more members of your team tuned in to chat, you’re likely to address problems as soon as possible and get key input during questioning.
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