Denver Bar Association
September 1999
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How Jurors See Us


 
 

The July 1999 issue of the Maine Bar Journal contained an article entitled "How Jurors See Us." It’s the published results of juror surveys done in Maine’s U.S. District Courts over the last eight years.

Overall, the results are heartening. Trial lawyers took some hits, but not where you might expect. Lawyers were ranked lowest in the category about entering exhibits into evidence.

Opening statements fared best, but closing arguments next to last. Overall ratings of attorneys’ competence, preparedness, and sincerity are very high.

The survey reports juror perceptions of lawyers, the judge and other court personnel, and the jury instructions. These survey results suggest that if the source of information is actual experience on a jury, perception of the legal system, and therefore lawyers, improves a lot—and does it quickly. Negative perceptions may come from personal experience as a party to a court action. When they take something to court, most people want victory, not justice!

Individual jurors’ comments quoted in the article are to the point.

". . . everyone took the task seriously. But boy was it a tiring experience!"

"Amazed that witnesses on both sides did not tell the truth while under oath!"

"I’m sure you understand that having jurors listen to six hours of testimony each day is exhausting."

". . . I have come away with a whole new respect for the criminal justice system . . ."

"If all our government processes were run so efficiently, the country would be in a lot better shape."

"My own faith in the jury process was affirmed by this experience."

"I just wish I knew what really goes on at that side bar!"

"Do I ever want to serve as a juror again? . . . my real answer to that would have to be ‘NO THANK YOU, I’LL PASS!’"

"Overall it was a good experience being on a jury, but please don’t call me back too soon."

"It has worked for 200 years. My couple of days could not possibly improve it."



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