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Jury Selection: Simple Rule 7: Improv Rule II

Rule 7, also from improvisational theatre:

Don’t block.

In improv, blocking is when you take another actor’s idea, and negate it:

“It sure is quiet here on the moon.” “No, this is the bottom of the sea.”

Your partner looks bad, and you’ve killed a scene. In improv, if your partner says you’re on the moon, you’re on the moon (and . . . ).

You may not like hearing them (see The Shrek Rule), but the jurors’ ideas are their ideas, and are true to them. If a juror says something that makes you uncomfortable (“Anyone who doesn’t testify must be guilty”), don’t argue with it, deny it, or otherwise block it. Instead mentally stick “in my world,” on the beginning, and deal with it as a sincerely held (at least at the moment of its revelation) belief. Then turn it to your advantage. “How many of you feel the same way? Do any of you feel differently? Why?” (Notice the difference in wording between the first and second question. Which do you think is intended to get more responses? Why?)

If a juror says something that makes you uncomfortable (there are no bad answers) and you ignore it, or browbeat the juror (yes, I’ve really seen lawyers do that), or argue, you cut off the flow of information not only from that juror, but also from every other juror. You will probably win the argument, but you make yourself less likeable. And you detach yourself from the group that you are trying to form with the jury. In other words, you pretty well make it impossible to accomplish the major goals of jury selection

So don’t block.


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