Who should I select to be on a jury in a rape case?

A flexible thinker. Personally I’d want you to have a jury full of people who are flexible enough to hear the evidence and then come to a decision based on that evidence than a group of people who have already made up their minds before the case has begun. There is so much misinformation amongst the public about sexual abuse. You need jurors who can come in to the court room full of preconceived ideas about rape, but are flexible enough to change their minds based on the evidence you present them.

Of course the difficulty is – how do you spot flexible thinkers? I don’t think it’s safe to assume that you’ll be able to pick these people out given the very limited amount of time you have. A safer bet would be to try to create a culture of flexible thinking during the time you have with the jury. This is also a great way to begin challenging some of the rape myths that may be relevant to the case.

Through your line of questioning challenge some of the taboos, closed thinking, and unhelpful assumptions that are common when it comes to rape. Ask your jurors how they would react if they were to hear that a victim had waited a long time before reporting the crime – could they imagine why someone might choose to delay? Would they find it difficult to believe the testimony of anyone who didn’t go straight to the police? The value in this isn’t hearing the answer from the one juror you’re questioning, the value is the opportunity for all of the jurors to hear you directly challenge common myths.

In rape cases the value of jury selection may be less about who you end up with on your jury and more about how you’ve used the time to prepare jurors for the case ahead. My advice is to approach jury selection as a chance to begin tackling rape myths first and an opportunity to select the right jurors second.

Posted in Criminal Justice Professionals.