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Strategies behind jury selection

12:17 AM, Nov 20, 2012   |    comments
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Strategies behind jury selection

As the jury in Vanessa Coleman's retrial prepares for another day of deliberations, two local attorneys revealed the strategy behind jury selection and offer insight into the panel hearing Coleman's case.

Jurors serving in the controversial retrial of Vanessa Coleman went home Monday night after deliberating for about two hours.  Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood charged the in the afternoon by reading through each of the 17 counts against Coleman for her role in the 2007 murder of Channon Christian.

The 12 person jury in Vanessa Coleman's retrial is split between six men and six women.

Three of the men are African American, and the remaining three are Caucasian. Among the six female jurors, two are Caucasian and four are African American.

"In Knox County, it's rare to see more than two African Americans on a jury. So this is a substantial portion of minority representation that you normally don't get," said Knoxville-based attorney Bruce Poston.

Poston is not involved in the Coleman retrial, but sees a certain confidence in the jury selection.

"What that tells you is, the prosecution was very confident in their case and that they felt that whether you were African American or Caucasian, it didn't matter."

He explains race is not the only factor considered when attorneys are picking jury members. They will also focus on age, gender and several other characteristics.

"You want jurors more favorable to looking at the evidence in the light you want them to," Poston said.

Don Bosch is another Knoxville attorney, in addition to serving as a panelist for for 10News' Inside Tennessee program. He says often a legal team will hire help to assist jury selection.

"There is a culture of jury consultants, and often they come from legal or psychology backgrounds that lawyers utilize in trying to pick personality types in order to best seat a jury," he said.

When vetting jurors, himself, Bosch asks how they would feel about a defendant who doesn't testify during the trial.

"I use the example: If you have a child and the cookie jar is broken at home and the child declines to say anything about it, are you going to be more or less likely to think that child broke that cookie jar? That's a way of helping jurors understand, this process is different than real life."

Both Bosch and Poston said the process for selecting jury members has changed with technology, citing Facebook and other social media as ways to learn more about the people who could determine the outcome of a case.

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