Consultants: Trial outcomes can be determined early on

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jurors deliberated an astounding 30 hours in the Michael Dunn trial, with a verdict coming down Saturday. Professional jury consultants say that much of the outcome of a trial can be determined early on during jury selection.

A mistrial was declared in the first-degree murder charge against Dunn, while he was found guilty on three charges of attempted second-degree murder and one charge of shooting/throwing deadly missiles. Dunn was on trial in the fatal 2012 shooting death of 17-year-old Jordan Davis.

The media was kept out of the courtroom for the first full day of jury selection, and for the final, critical step, when each side gets to strike jurors they don't want.

But the final group of 12 was just about evenly split male and female, and mostly white -- just two African Americans -- in a case that jury consultant Susan Constantine describes as racially charged.

"There was a young man he was 17 years old, he was an African-American he was killed by a white male," Constantine said. "If I was working for the state, I definitely would have been looking for those that were African-American. And if I were on the defense side I would want no one that was African-American. And the reason is obvious."

Of course, Constantine notes, race alone is not an acceptable reason to strike a juror, and must be viewed alongside other traits and life experiences. Half of the 12 member jury had no children, none were divorced. And Constantine notes, the jurors selected tended to be non-authoritarian types, many with mid-level management jobs.

Internal characteristics are just part of the story. Dr Brooke Butler, a litigation consultant and legal psychologist from Jacksonville, said it's impossible to discount the pressures of a high profile case.

"I do get the sense that these jurors not only took jobs seriously but knew they were being watched very closely," Butler said. "They understood implications, not only on Florida but possibly elsewhere. ... I do think they were aware they were being watched and their verdict was extremely extremely important."

What is known about jurors beyond what they said in court? Not much: No jurors have stepped forward to speak about their experience.

Michael Dunn trial juror questionnaire

Standard Juror Questionnaire


To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment
More Stories