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Jury Selection: Simple Rule 4: The 90/10 Rule

We lawyers love to hear ourselves talk. That can be the death of a jury selection. In a good voir dire, the jurors do most of the talking. Even if I can’t hear what the lawyer and jurors are saying, I can tell a good voir dire from a bad one by listening, as long as I can tell who is talking. Lawyer talking most of the time? Bad. Jurors talking most of the time? Good.

So the fourth Simple Rule for Better Jury Selection is the 90/10 Rule: let the jurors talk 90 percent of the time (or more) in voir dire.

Try to find a way to elicit more information with fewer words (more about that later, especially in Rules 8 and 11). If you have a brilliant defense, try to find a way to get one of your jurors to come up with it. If a juror or your adversary says something that must be refuted, let your jurors refute it (if it’s worth refuting, one of them will, given the chance, refute it). Among the many benefits of talking less, you’ll learn more, the jurors will like you more (or at worst dislike you less), and the judge will be more reluctant to limit your time.

90/10: Get them talking, and keep them talking.

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