So I will be taking about Jury Speech’s and hopefully giving some tips to ensure your jury speech is good as it can be. I will start by looking at what jury speeches are trying to achieve and some tips for jury speeches and then move on to look at some research into juries and what we can take from than when thinking about a speech.
So, What is the speech trying to achieve?
As a rule the defence will be trying to ask difficult questions, while the prosecution will be trying to provide irrefutable answers.
More fundamentally we are trying to establish reasonable doubt in the mind of the jury. We are tying to engage the jury. We are trying to ensure the jury understand the case as whole. That they have a full understanding of the weaknesses in the crown case, they understand clients position and they understand how they can apply the evidence they have heard – albeit the latter should be covered should be covered by the judges charge. It is the only point in the case where as the defence we have complete control to explain the defence case. As such, its an extremely important part of any case and I have identified some tips for ensuring that we maximise the benefit of any speech.
So Tips for Speech
This is necessary. We don’t want the speech to belwider a jury, and simply rambling on about random pieces of the evidence in an incoherent manner is going to do just that. The jury need to understand what is being said and the juries focus must be maintained. A way of doing this is your speech having a clear objective or a certain theme you are constantly referring the jury back to and thus reinforcing your argument. Good preparation seems an obvious way to ensure your speech has a clear objective.
I don’t mean you need to have start to write a speech before the trial starts, although you should, of course, have a strategy and the beginnings of a plan for how you would like to address the jury at the end. Clearly it would not make sense to have a speech written out word for word at the beginning but the clients position should be clear and general end goal should be identified. This is not only to provide more structure to speech but will give a path though the trial and provide focus for cross examination. This will allow a jury to follow and understand what the clients position Is during the trial. This means the speech can reinforce this position and compare/contrast this with the evidence heard throughout the trial.
As the trial progresses, you will be identifying the strengths and weaknesses in the crown case. These should be clearly noted as the trial is progressing and incorporated into the speech. In doing so you should consider what comments the otherside might make about the strength and weakness of your case.
It will be obvious to us what the strengths and weaknesses of the crown case are, but it wont be for the jury. We need to make it clear to jury what these are and what bearing they could have on the case, albeit perhaps putting more emphasis on the weaknesses of the crown case. However, it may be worth identifying a strength or stengths of the crown case and ideally qualifying this with a weakness. This makes you appear open and frank with the jury. If the jury feel that you are intentionally trying to skim over a stregnth they might give weight to why you are doing so and feel you are simply trying to hide something. This could also lead to them losing trust in you.
On that note, It is not necessary that the jury like you but you must maintain their attention. Clearly this will be easier if they do in fact like you, so where possible, try and get the jury to like you. On that point, you shouldn’t insult witnesses or prosecutor in your speech. It is unlikely to actually advance a particular argument very far and it more likely to simply give the jury a negative impression of you if you are seen to be simply trying to score points against a witness or a prosecutor.
Clearly obvious but worth mentioning. This comes down the impression the jury get. If you are dressed scruffy you can appear uninterested and unprepared. This will clearly affect the weight the jury give to anything your saying.
Never misquote the evidence
Intentionally or recklessly, never misquote the evidence. If you are going to refer to the evidence you need to be certain about the details of the evidence. Hopefully the jury will have listened to and remembered some of the evidence and if they find your misquoting the evidence your credibitly in the eyes of the jury will be gone.
The easiest way to avoid this will be to have detailed notes.
Also, avoid simply rehearsing the evidence. The job in the speech is to comment on the evidence. Simply rehearsing the evidence is not going to be of assistance. The jury are likely to either lose interest or become confused. We are wanting to focus the jury on essential elements of your clients defence and what can be taken from the evidence to support that.
As mentioned before it is essential that we maintain the interest of the jury. Given the nature of the cases and the amount of evidence heard this is going to be difficult. That’s why a clear structure to the speech is necessary. It may be that you want to advise the jurors at the start of the speech of the different sections you will speak about. The jury have a better idea of where your speech is going and the relevance of each part and this can help maintain their focus.
This will be of assistance to the jury but perhaps more to yourself. It is likely to prevent you simply rambling on or missing essential facts. It can also help you get a feel of how much time you are spending on a particular area and make you more alert to when you should move on.
This may be easier said than done. Everyone will have their own way of delivering a speech and that is most likely the way that makes them feel most comfortable. However, you need to make sure you are projecting your voice and making regular eye contact with each member of the jury. Simply standing still reading from a sheet of paper is not going to engage any jury. You Should also try to speak to the jury in a way they can relate. Using examples or anecdotes to explain complex law in a way the jury are likely to understand and try to distill the evidence down into the essential points. They are lot more likely to remember what is being said to them if they truly understand it.
Another way of keeping delivery interesting may be the use of visual aids. This could be using productions or photographs. This will give the jury something else to focus on other than your voice and may help grab their attention when it is starting to fade. Photographs in particular may help set the seen for jurors and assist them in putting the evidence, and our arguments, into context.
Finally, How long should it last?
Everyone will be different and each trial will be different. However, when looking into this I found that a general rule of thumb is that the speech should be 5 minutes for everyday of trial.
Now clearly these are just tips, there is no way of knowing exactly what works with each jury and what will make a good jury speech. We can try and read juries and experienced advocates may even claim they know what works – ultimately however it is really a guess and juries do make surprise decisions
There has been some research into juries and there is one particular example I found that I thought might provide some assistance when considering how juries are taking in information and how to approach a jury speech.
The example I am going to look at is research conducted in New Zealand. This research considered a total of 48 jury trials. These trials ranged from the simple to the complex with multiple accused and multiple charges. All of the judges and over 53% of the jurors responded.
The following was found:
- A significant number of jurors took time to get over the surprise and shock of being on the jury and getting used to the court environment, somewhere the majority of them had never been, and found it intimidating. In 20 of the 48 cases jurors commented on their failure to absorb material in the early parts of the trial due to this settling process.This is something to bear in mind when considering what to put in your speech. The trial may have lasted weeks or even months. We need to try and ensure the jurors are remembering all the relevant evidence and the research here is suggesting that in the early stages some are not taking as much in as they do later in the trial. It may be of assistance here to refer juries back to pictures or cctv or other visual aids this will again put the evidence you are referring to in context and may jog their memories of the earlier evidence.
- In 11 of the 48 trials at least one juror, and sometimes up to half of those interviewed for a particular trial, volunteered that they or other jurors had difficulty concentrating. These difficulties were exacerbated when the oral evidence was boring or presented in a boring fashion, was confusing or repetitive, or involved lengthy technical evidence.”This comes back to what I was saying earlier. This is why in the speech it is necessary to engage the jury and distill the evidence down into the key points. The chances are the jury are not taking as much of the evidence in throughout the trial as we may hope. However, if we can grasp their attention for the time when they are focused solely on us then we have a better chance of them remembering the evidence we need them to when they are making their decision.
- the accused as witness
Somewhat surprisingly when jurors were asked about the impact of the failure of the accused to give evidence, virtually all the jurors maintained they attached no weight to this’
So it is worth reinforcing in the speech the accused does not have to give evidence and it is her or right to do so and no adverse inferences may be taken from this - as according to this research, at least, they do take it on board.
- Complex cases 35 of the 48 trials fundamental misunderstandings of the law emerged during jury deliberations. In particular the meaning of intent and the concept of beyond reasonable doubt caused juries difficulties. In Scotland there is evidence that the Moorov doctrine causes juries problems.
The jury speech should be used an opportunity to try and mitigate these misunderstandings. Judges will try and use tried and tested definitions of applicable law in attempt to simplify the law.It is worth using these in your speech to reinforce the point.
Finally, the jury speech. The jurors indicated they had difficultly recalling the details of the evidence in deliberations. This reinforces the idea that the speech is the last chance we have to get our position across to the jury. This needs to be done as clearly and simply as possible. The speech is the last impression the jury will have of your clients case before going into deliberate.
So that is some points I hope assist In the making of jury speech. I personally haven’t had to give a jury speech so you will all have a better idea of what you do. Nonetheless hopefully this has given you some points to consider when preparing your next speech.