Jury Trials for Pro Se Parties

One way in which this website and the writer, Lawyer X, depart from conventional wisdom is in the area of pro se or pro per parties choosing to have a jury trial rather than a bench trial (trial to a judge).

Many lawyers want to make people believe, including themselves, that they are some higher form of attorney known as a "trial lawyer". John Grisham even makes a reference to this tendency in one of books.

However, the simple truth is that most lawyers don't actually do very many, if any, jury trials. There are some exceptions, but most of the time when lawyers talk about doing trials they are talking about cases or motions presented to a judge, not to a jury.

Parties who represent themselves in court can take advantage of this.

Lawyers are one of the least liked professions in the United States and "ordinary" people don't trust them.

If a pro se litigant can just calm their fear, they can cultivate and use the "us versus them" or a "there but for the grace of God go I" mentalities and somewhat equalize the advantages lawyers automatically have by virtue of their familiarity with the legal system.

In addition, most judges are at least a little prejudiced against pro se litigants. The judges rely on the lawyers for campaign contributions and support and, in addition, lawyers also help the system work smoothly. On the other hand, the pro se litigants bog things down and if they did have prior contact with the judge, the judge would recuse themselves and yet judges and lawyers interact in social situations regularly without a recusal taking place.

Finally, most lawyers absolutely do not understand how to do an effective jury selection, which is the most important part of the trial. Most lawyers were taught and are still using the same methods that were used 100 years ago when there are actually much, muc more effective approaches to take.

Our e-book, The Guerrilla Guide to Picking a Jury: Jury Selection and Voir Dire for Non-Lawyers, gives specific instructions on the intent of jury selection as well as how to identify and "de-select" the potential jurors who would be inclined to decide a case against you.

If you are representing yourself, this is the best way to remove the advantages lawyers have in a case.

Leave a Reply