Jurors say the darndest things! Texas Lawyer reporter Angela Morris emailed questions to a longtime jury consultant and a patent litigator about the humorous things they’ve heard from the mouths of jurors. Here are their answers, edited for length and style.
Texas Lawyer: What are examples of the funniest comments you’ve heard from jurors after a trial?
Doug Keene, Ph.D., president and founder, Keene Trial Consulting, Austin: 1. Jurors in longer trials (over two weeks) often come up with nicknames for attorneys and litigants, and sometimes for key witnesses. Sometimes they are movie stars or public figures. Other times, it’s just a name that seems to capture what they viewed as the essence of the person’s presence in the courtroom. A litigant who was quite attractive and dressed to her advantage was referred to as ‘Barbie.’ It was not a compliment. Another jury obviously respected an attorney when they started referring to him as ‘Atticus.’
2. Once, when I was conducting post-verdict interviews, a couple of the jurors referred to an attorney ad litem as looking like a weasel. They liked him but found his posture and manner a bit hunched and odd.
3. Another jury commented that, as much as they liked an attorney, he badly needed a haircut and looked like he had slept in his suit. Hint: Dress in court to fulfill the mental image jurors have of a gracious, professional and expert attorney. Dress conventionally, modestly, and avoid exuding sloppiness or wealth.
Tracey Davies, partner, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Dallas: I’m not sure there are ‘funny’ comments per se that I have received from jurors after a trial, but I will say the breadth of topics for discussion is always of interest to me. I have had jurors comment on outfits worn by the lawyers (as in, ‘Lawyer X’s outfit on Tuesday was perfect!’); accents (as in, ‘We like Texas accents in Michigan.’); and the food they had for lunch (as in, ‘The Bar-B-Q was excellent on Wednesday, but don’t do the fried chicken again!’).