Different jurors have differing ways of analyzing the information that you present to them. I often urge lawyers to present evidence in ways that covers the concerns of the whole jury. To do this, some experts recommend that the personality type of the jurors be considered.
Learning to identify and categorize jurors according to personality type is an incredibly valuable skill in jury selection, and the selection of your jury should consider personality as a major criteria. Some suggest that there are six different personality types on jury panels: (1) Sympathetic, (2) Analytical, (3) Practical, (4) Conventional, (5) Persuasive, and (6) Creative jurors.
Analytical personalities are calculating, logical, and curious intellects. They like to learn new things, discover how things work, and solve problems. Unlike conventional personalities, they don’t like to be spoon-fed the truth; instead, they love to investigate complex problems and find the answers for themselves. Never content to follow hunches, make assumptions, or view the world simplistically, analytical people actually enjoy delving into challenging problems and finding complex solutions.
For this reasoon I often tell young lawyers,”Don’t answer every question the jurors might have, give them the facts in such a manner that your conclusion is the only viable one, but let them draw the conclusion themselves.”
As jurors, analytical personalities are primarily concerned with determining liability and calculating appropriate damages by carefully and objectively analyzing the evidence and the opinions of experts, as long as they support their opinions well. Unlike sympathetic jurors, analytical personalities are able to divorce their emotions from their analysis of liability, although many do have sympathy. Unlike practical jurors, analytical jurors are able to divorce misgivings about a plaintiff’s perceived whining, malingering, or hyper-sensitivity from their analysis as well, and don’t hold a plaintiff’s personality or demeanor against them.
Truth be told, analytical jurors are the most purely objective jurors available in any jury panel. They tend to be reasonable in balancing fault and responsibility without pre-judging the litigants, rarely let emotions or the personality of the litigants interfere with their judgment, and focus heavily on the evidence and experts in trial. They are the least likely to let predispositions influence their decision-making because they are so interested in analyzing the evidence that they usually withhold making judgments about credibility during opening statements.
In fact, personal credibility–the credibility impressions that jurors form based on the personality and demeanor of the litigants and attorneys, as well as juror feelings about what the litigant represents as an insurance company, auto accident victim, or whatever–is relatively less critical to analytical jurors. Many jurors, especially conventional and practical jurors, are more comfortable viewing the world in simplistic, right or wrong terms; these jurors find it important to make quick assessments about right and wrong, which litigant to trust and which is dishonest. This view of the world motivates jurors to take shortcuts in assessing liability in trial. On the other hand, analytical jurors are quite comfortable with ambiguous fault and causation, blurred lines between right and wrong, complicated answers to complex problems, and prefer seeking their own answers rather than being told by an authoritative source.
Analytical jurors will usually side with the party that best explains and supports its position with thoughtful reasoning and compelling evidence. If your side has the upper hand in the science, details, and common sense, you will want analytical jurors on your panel. If you need your jurors to pay attention to the technical, complicated, and mind-numbingly boring issues and explanations in your case, you will want analytical jurors on your panel to understand and explain those complexities to the rest of the jury. No emotional content or plea to a greater cause is needed to sway an analytical juror; preponderance of the evidence is plenty.
In identifying analytical personalities, search for jurors who have chosen jobs that involve investigative, intellectual, and problem-solving work. Critical thinkers, scientists, researchers, lab technicians, investigators, journalists, computers, economists, engineers, surgeons and doctors, professors, architects, consultants, do-it-yourselfers, avid non-fiction readers, and people who watch the discovery channel and Jeopardy are likely analytical personalities. During voir dire, ask your jurors how they approach specific types of situations–the closer to the situation at hand in trial the better–and look for those who demonstrate a logical, analytical approach. Analytical personalities will almost always have a well-reasoned, uniquely methodical approach to problem-solving. A juror who decides how much to sell her home for by finding the average sale price per square foot of all 3-bedroom, 2-story houses within a 5 mile radius (and then has a separate methodology for determining the additional value of her pool) is surely analytical; in contrast, a conventional juror would probably rely on their real estate agent’s recommended sale price, and a persuasive juror would probably choose the most aggressive sale price and expect to negotiate down.
One key to identifying analytical jurors–and in dealing with them during trial–is to understand that most analytical personalities have a great breadth and depth of knowledge and expertise. NEVER assume that an analytical juror’s knowledge and expertise is limited to their own field of work; most analytical jurors have a deep understanding of engineering, finance, construction, the medical field, real estate, and how cars and machines work. In short, analytical jurors are well versed in just about every issue that trials involve, and you need to be aware that any analytical jurors on your panel are likely to become influential ‘expert jurors’ in the deliberation room. Be sure to find out what your analytical jurors know–and what their understanding is–about the issues involved in your case, because sometimes they can mislead the rest of the jury panel with bad information they think is right.
Despite my plea in last month’s jury tip to simplify your language and messages in trial, analytical personalities are the one type of juror that will NOT want you to leave out the technical words or dumb down your explanations. The same lesson applies to your expert witnesses’ communication style; while most jurors are more receptive to experts who speak clearly and in lay terms, analytical jurors are the type best able to understand the technical content. While most jurors determine how credible an expert is based on how honest, intelligent, and authoritative he/she is, analytical jurors alone look past superficial traits and require experts to support their opinions and conclusions with careful analysis and evidence. However, it never hurts to keep your trial themes simple and clear; even the most analytical of jurors can lose sight of your message unless reminded.
If you are representing the side whose evidence is stronger but whose emotional themes are weaker, if your case relies on boring, complicated technical issues, and if you are concerned that the opposing side might distract the jury with insubstantial, tangential issues, you will want to rely on analytical jurors to remain focused on the evidence. Although not the most persuasive and well-spoken jurors, analytical jurors are useful in bringing other jurors back to the facts.
If you are representing a defendant against a plaintiff attorney armed with strong emotions, an incredibly sympathetic client, but weak or circumstantial evidence of liability, causation, or damages, analytical jurors are incredibly adept at deflating the emotion on a jury panel and focusing jurors on the evidence. If you are defending a case against a plaintiff who was partially at fault, your analytical jurors are the best suited to understanding and assigning comparative negligence.
Understanding your jurors’ core values and personality types is essential to understanding each juror’s underlying motivations for making decisions in trial. Although it is important to appeal to the unique values and characteristics of each personality type in your trial presentation, it is much more effective to carefully and honestly consider the strengths and weaknesses of your case, and adjust your jury selection accordingly.