Jury Psychology in Charlotte DWI Trials | Mecklenburg DUI Lawyers

Understanding jury psychology is critical when litigating a DWI case. Furthermore, knowing how jurors think can win or lose your trial. So what do we know about the criminal juror’s mindset in general. And the DWI juror more specifically. From the outset, we confess we are huge fans of Dr. David Ball, Ph.D. He is a brilliant trial consultant who first developed “reptile” tactics for plaintiff’s personal injury cases. Since that revolution, Dr. Ball now applies those principles to criminal defense.

Jury Psychology in Criminal Trials

First, we start with our strong belief in the jury system. After all, our justice system is unique in the world. Because every individual has some form of bias, good or bad, we prefer the group setting of a jury. In Mecklenburg Superior Court, there are 12 jurors plus one alternate juror. Hence, there are 13 persons with 13 different life experiences and views. Through voir dire questioning, lawyers are able to learn much about those views and experiences. As a result, both the prosecution and defense can select a cross section of people. While some jurors may favor the State, others will favor the defense. In the end, there should be a balance that effectively makes the jury neutral.

Jury Psychology in DUI Cases

jury psychologyIt is a difficult task for some to judge another person and decide their fate. While a few jurors may seem disinterested, most pay close attention during trial. And they remain engaged throughout the process. So what makes a DUI juror turn one way or the other? No one really knows. However, we can anticipate certain emotions and mindsets.

First, there is tremendous public disdain for DUI arrests. Of course. No one wants truly drunk drivers on the road. Period. Nevertheless, our government spends our money to make us biased against drunk driving. Like we wouldn’t be otherwise. And their efforts are paying off. Because of “don’t drink and drive” billboards, people think it’s illegal to drink and get behind the wheel. When asked about “drink responsibly” messages, they look confused. Furthermore, when confronted with the 0.08 “legal limit,” jurors go back to the “no drinking and driving” mantra. Before we can win cases, we have to first correct this fundamental DUI misunderstanding.

Reptile DWI Trials

People inherently care about what affects them or someone they love. Sadly, strangers do not merit empathy without motivation. So how can we get jurors to identify with our DUI clients? Maybe the easiest way is to have jurors give our clients the same concern and attention they would want. Almost no one ever expects to sit in the “chair of the accused.” But we know it can happen to almost anyone. At least anyone who dares have a drink at dinner or beer at a game. And once jurors realize this fact, you are on your way to not guilty. That is, of course, if you start with a good case. No amount of reptile can cure bad DUI facts.

Reptile Breath Test Results

Because of our training, we know the frailties and reliability issues of any breath testing machine. While the State prefers the term “instrument,” that is just clever manipulation. But jurors are not stupid. And they know a lawyer’s trade is carefully choosing works and phrases. So machine or instrument. Drunk or impaired. In the end, a rose by any other name… Here’s our focus at trial. If you have good video evidence, tell jurors to use their own common sense. Moreover, don’t blindly accept any number from a machine. Instead, trust what they see and hear for themselves. Finally, take yourself out of the equation. No one needs to be told what they see on video. That’s the reason for video evidence.

Reptile Standardized Field Sobriety Tests

First, let’s take out the word “standardized.” Rather, it is nearly impossible to administer these tests properly on the side of the road. While many DUI lawyers focus on technical violations, we prefer to mock them more basically. For example, walk and turn / one leg stand “tests” require carnival feats of balance. Furthermore, we don’t walk or stand in this way naturally. Instead, we use a 6″ gap between our feet and use our arms to balance. Give us a long pole like at the circus, and we can probably do it. But handicapping us only makes us fail unfairly. As for HGN, the only useful part of that eye exam is how we stand. True drunks sway, stagger, or fall. Persons who drink responsibly stand there at ease without issue.

jury psychologyRobert J. Reeves P.C.

Charlotte DWI attorney Robert J. Reeves is a practicing trial lawyer who focuses on DUI cases. Because of his commitment to DUI defense, he offers these perspectives to fellow DUI lawyers. Consequently, Mr. Reeves hopes his insights are helpful and welcomes your viewpoint. Please call him directly 704-222-7525 or email aaron@leeandleelawfirm.com. Jury psychology is critically important in DUI defense.