When Ohioans think of litigation they often think of aggressive attorneys going toe-to-toe with legal arguments in front of a judge and jury. It’s always flashy and glorified. The reality is that, while this aggressive litigation does occur from time-to-time, a lot of the litigation legwork occurs well before trial and, many times, outside of the courtroom. Discovery and trial prep are keys to litigation success, but so, too, can jury selection.

Those who are headed toward litigation of a civil issue may have their trial heard by a jury. The selection of this jury can form the foundation of one’s success or failure depending on how it plays out. For this reason, it is crucial to understand the jury selection process and how to use it to one’s advantage.

When potential jurors are called in, a judge will tell them a little bit about the type of case being tried and ask if there is anyone who feels they can’t properly serve in the jury. After that, attorneys for each side will question jurors in an attempt to identify any potential biases. Each side has a number of preemptory challenges that can be utilized, which means a juror can be excluded for any reason, even race and gender. Attorneys can try to bounce other potential jurors, too, if they can show good cause. This may include red flags of bias or unfairness, but a judge will ultimately decide on these “for cause” challenges. Each attorney can utilize “for cause” challenges as many times as he or she wants.

Jurors hold the future of a claim in their hands. Their analysis of the facts at hand and judgment will determine whether an individual succeeds or fails at trial. That is why jury selection is a skill that, when properly utilized, can give an individual a leg up heading into trial. Competent attorneys can help devise a jury selection strategy that seeks to ensure that a case doesn’t fall flat on its face merely because of those who are chosen to serve on a jury.