Sunday, March 18, 2018


Professor Ronald L. Carlson

Ronald L. Carlson, Professor at University of Georgia Law School, reviewed Jury Selection Handbook: The Nuts and Bolts of Effective Jury Selection. Professor Carlson has written 16 books on evidence, trial practice and criminal procedure, including Carlson on Evidence, which is in its 5rh Edition. He has lectured on evidence and litigation throughout the country. The Georgia Trial Lawyers Association presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award. This merely scratches the surface of Professor Carlson’s achievements and his biography can be found here.
The following is Professor Carlson’s review of Jury Selection Handbook:
The central place of jury selection in the American litigation system is unquestioned.  It is the key determinant when assessing whether a lawyer will be successful at trial.  Jury selection has been correctly described as the most difficult challenge in litigation.  Fortunately for attorneys and law students alike there is a little gem which effectively demystifies the process.  This is Clark and O’Toole, JurySelection Handbook.

Law students will profit from some of the basic explanations of nuts and bolts topics like the methods for asserting peremptory challenges.  Lawyers will be alerted to tips for assessing leadership potential.  When peremptory challenges run short for the litigator, it is critical that she prioritizes her strikes.  The importance of doing so is distilled in the phrase from the text:  “In other words, if you are going to have a bad juror on the jury, you at least want it to be someone who is not going to be an opinion leader.”  Advice for spotting such persons then proceeds.

Commendable wisdom is typically shared on practical topics which appear throughout the book.  These include strategies for questioning jurors, challenges for cause, techniques for evaluating prospective jurors, and leaving the jury at the end of voir dire with a positive view of your case.  The authors are especially capable of imparting this advice.  Ronald Clark has informed lawyers and law students for years about pretrial skills, opening statements and closing arguments, evidence law strategies, and cross-examination tactics.  Thomas O’Toole is an experienced jury consultant who has provided jury selection services in a broad array of cases.  As wise practitioners of their professions, the authors supply a handy checklist at the end of the book.  The checklist provides a review of the important subjects contained in the text.  

The Jury Selection Handbook will be used by law students as well as attorneys.  For the academic arena, the book incorporates a special chapter of assignments for experiential learning.  Law students in prosecutor or defense clinics or those helping in legal aid offices will be admirably prepared to assist in their respective offices by completion of the experiential exercises.  The exercises also prepare the student to face the challenge of courtroom practice with his or her future law firm or other legal office. 

In one of the chapters the authors impart advice on how to make a favorable impression with jurors by being friendly, avoiding distracting attire, and converting nervousness to energy.  In similar fashion, this text makes a highly favorable impression on the reader by its comprehensive and practical approach to jury selection.                 

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