Each month the Armed Citizens Legal DefenseNetwork’s online journal includes a column titled “Attorney Question of the Month”, in which we ask you, our affiliated attorneys, questions about members’ potential interactions with the criminal justice system.
Network President Marty Hayes has composed the questions we would like to address in our September online journal. He asks–
For the most part, jury selection is glossed over in law school (or not discussed at all), even though the jury is the trier of fact. With this in mind, this is a two-part question.
First, as the attorney handling a self-defense shooting, what type of people would you want on a jury?
Next, what steps can the armed citizen take ahead of time to ensure that they do not alienate a jury.
This is a difficult question because no two cases are the same. Additionally, the question itself is problematic because not everyone always agrees that any particular case is a “self-defense” shooting case. Just because you believe a case to be a “self-defense” shooting case does not mean the prosecutor will agree. Indeed, this is a disputed matter in every case of this sort which goes to trial. The reasons supporting the defense position and underlying the claim of self-defense will determine what type of people will be sought by the defense for the jury. For example, if the self-defense claim is based on a technical point of law, rule followers, clear thinkers and people likely to feel duty bound by their oaths to follow the law may be the best choices.
On the other hand, if the facts require a stretch of the law to reach self-defense, and the defendant is sympathetic, people who are likely to be swayed by their emotion or those more inclined to “do the right thing” rather than strictly follow the letter of the law may be the best choices. A good lawyer does not employ a set strategy for all cases of any type. When I speak to groups of armed citizens, I always advise them not to act like a “yahoo.” What I mean by this is to act responsibly at all times rather than someone eager for an opportunity to pull out their weapon. Always remember, self-defense generally boils down to “reasonableness.” If your conduct is in line with what a reasonable community member would do in the same circumstances, you will likely be safe. If you are inclined to act unreasonably, you ought to reconsider whether you should be carrying a firearm in the first place.
Marc J. Victor, Esq.
Marc J. Victor, P.C.
3920 South Alma School Road, Suite 5
Chandler, Arizona 85248