If you’re primarily talking about money in voir dire, you’re essentially telling the jury that’s what your case is about.
And here’s the problem with that…
Your case is N-E-V-E-R about money.
Someone has got to start changing this conversation because what you’re doing has zero to do with money, and everything to do with holding bad actors accountable.
Today’s FHTH podcast is the recording of last month’s live episode.
If you missed it, listen in to find out what I want you to stop doing at trial (unless you want to tank your case).
And if you were there for the live recording, here’s your chance to hear it again!
EPISODE 220 TRANSCRIPTION
All righty. We should be live here on Facebook. If you are with us, go ahead and let me know by putting a comment here in the chat. So good to be with you. We are going to be live podcasting, meaning I'm going to be live podcasting every month except for next month because I always take the month of July off. And if you aren't taking time off this summer, your Finnish mom is telling you that's really important.
Today we are going to be talking about Stop Doing This at Trial Unless You Want to Tank Your Case, which I'm assuming most of you do not. But before we get started, I would like to hear from you here in the Facebook platform if you are watching, tell us where you're watching from and say hi over there in the comments. I would be happy to say hi back when I get a chance to go ahead and look over in that screen.
All right, so I was going to title this podcast I Can Predict with 90% Plus Accuracy What Jurors are Thinking and So Can You. But what it ended up being was talking about what so many of you are doing and that I see is tanking your cases, and so that's what I decided to call it instead. But know that we will talk about how to read a juror's mind. Let's talk about this. So I have never been surprised by what a juror has said. And we want to know what jurors are thinking. Am I right? Yes. We want to know what jurors are thinking. So first off, let's talk about why. Well, I think for most of you, the reason you want to know why or what jurors are thinking is because you want to know whether they'll vote your way or whether they'll vote the defense's way, right?
But let's look at how you tend to go about that. It's not the greatest way because even though we say we are very much interested in what jurors think, what in actuality is happening is that we aren't spending any time or very little time going at what it is they actually think. We're not curious about them at all. In fact, most of your attempts in jury selection have to do with trying to convince the jurors or persuade the jurors to your point of view, even if you're trying to do it in a sneaky way. I mean, here's the bad news, is that it is almost impossible to change someone's mind, which means that we are wasting our time, not to mention the juror's time, when we are trying to persuade or convince them to our point of view.
Now, if you're asking yourself, "Well, are you telling me that I don't need to persuade or convince jurors?", that's exactly what I am telling you. When you attempt to persuade or influence, it just turns out bad. Not to mention that people don't want to be persuaded or convinced. Nobody likes salespeople. Brian Tracy, one of the best salespeople to ever live, talks about how nobody wants to be sold anything. People may be ready to buy, but they don't want to be sold. In fact, I just grabbed his book. I haven't read this in, I don't know, 20 years, but it's called, you might know this, The Psychology of Selling by Brian Tracy. And he has this beautiful story in there. You probably know, but if you don't, I'm going to read it to you because it's such a good one called the Flowering Cherry Tree. If you are here and you know this story, let me know in the comments.
There is a story about a real estate agent who takes a couple to show them a house. The house is not in particularly great shape, but as they pull up in front of the house, the woman looks past the house and in the backyard there's a beautiful flowering cherry tree. She immediately says, "Oh, Harry, look at that beautiful flowering cherry tree. There was a flowering cherry tree in my backyard when I was a little girl. I've always wanted to live in a house with a flowering cherry tree." They all get out of the car and go in and look at the house, but the salesperson has taken note of what the woman said. Harry looks at the house critically. The first thing he says is, "It looks like we're going to have to recarpet this house." The salesman says, "Yes, that's true. But from there, just look. You can see out the dining room and you're looking right at that beautiful flowering cherry tree."
The woman immediately looks out the back window at the flowering cherry tree and smiles. The salesman knows that the woman is the primary decision maker when it comes to buying a house, so he focuses on her. They go into the kitchen and Harry says, "This kitchen's a bit small and the plumbing looks old." The salesman says, "Yes, that's true, but when you look through this window while you're preparing dinner, you can see that beautiful flowering cherry tree in the backyard." Next, they go upstairs and see the rest of the house. Harry says, "These bedrooms are too small. And besides, the wallpaper is old-fashioned and the rooms have to be repainted." The salesperson says, "Yes, but notice that from the master bedroom you have that beautiful view of the flowering cherry tree." By the end of the walk through the house, the woman is so excited about the flowering cherry tree that she can't see anything else. The buying decision is made. They buy the house because the salesman has identified the hot button, the flowering cherry tree.
Now, I'm not saying that you guys should go out and figure out sales techniques and do all the things. I share that story with you because the best salespeople spend very little time selling and most of their time giving people what they've always wanted or what they already wanted. See, here's the thing about that story is he didn't decide ahead of time, this real estate agent, before he even met the people buying the house that he would convince them to buy it based on the flowering cherry tree. He picked up, he got curious and heard that was a hot button, something that was important to her, and then he ran with it.
Now, at this point, you're probably thinking, "Well, that's the problem, Sari. We don't know what the juror's hot button issue is. We don't know their worldview." And my answer to that is, yes, you fucking do. This is why I can predict with 90% accuracy, 90 plus percent accuracy, what any given juror is going to say in any mock jury or real jury that I've been a part of, because I know what jurors want.
Here's what you think jurors are thinking. You believe that jurors think that lawsuits are horrible. You believe that jurors think, or jurors don't, want to give money for pain and suffering. And you believe that jurors view lawyers with suspicion. And here's the truth, you are right. They believe all of those things. But instead of thinking, "Maybe I should show up differently or change the conversation," you jump right in and prove them right. You ask stupid questions in voir dire you use gimmicks, you use techniques. This is the problem my friends, "But," you say, "if I'm right about jurors and that they believe X, Y, Z, what you just said, what hope is there?"
Here's what you have to get. Yes, jurors believe those things, but they also believe that if you hurt someone, you should make it right. They also believe that life is valuable. They also believe that it's the things that don't come with a price that often have the most value. You know how I know this? Because A, I've heard you say this over and over again, and B, most people believe these things. I mean, the reason why you're not hearing these things is because you're asking the wrong questions. And now we're going to get closer to the thing that you are doing that is tanking your case.
If you ask jurors, or asked jurors I should say, if they think lawsuits are a good way to settle disagreements, they're going to say no. Ask if they can give 10 million for pain and suffering, and they're going to say no. Here's why. There's no context. One of my favorite memes, jokes, whatever you want to say about it, is someone says, "Would you like 10 mozzarella sticks, string cheeses?" And you're like, "No." And you're like, "What if I fried them and served them with marinara?" And you're like, "Yes, please." See, what's absurd in one context makes total sense in another. I mean, I would eat an old shoe if it was deep-fried, right? I love deep-fried food to my detriment.
Most people have never had contact with the court system or they don't have any familiarity with it, but we are asking questions that have no basis in their reality and they have no idea how to answer those questions. I mean, the reason why I and you can predict what a juror is going to say is because you're looking for this rare gem, the rare juror that can give money and loves lawsuits. And then when you don't find it, you blame tort reform, you blame the conservatives, you blame, blame, blame, blame. Change the conversation.
Last month in the live podcasting, we talked about what you focus on, you make important, right? So the defense is going to be like, "Oh my God, y'all are here because this greedy, horrible lawyer." And what do you do? You jump in, you go, "Who has a problem with lawsuits? Who can give money?" You just proved what the defense said about you or what the jurors are already thinking about you. I mean, we know, you know. I don't have to come in here and tell you what jurors are thinking. You know what they're thinking that you are a money grabbing, shark ambulance chaser that is just for there for money, that your person is not really hurt, that you're just in it for the big bucks, they're just in it for the big bucks. And yet your response to that is to come in and make all of your voir dire around who can give money and who likes lawsuits. You've just fucking proved their point.
If that's what you're coming in with, that's what you're going to do and tank your case. When you make it about money, that's what you've said the case is about. But you go first in most cases, I think there's a couple jurisdictions where the defense goes first. I think that's so fucking weird. But you go first. So when you ask these types of questions, you tell the jury what the case is about. Primacy recency. Now, maybe you don't say it right at the very beginning of your voir dire, but I know a lot of attorneys that do. But just the primacy of it's the first thing that jurors have contact with, right? The beginning part of trial voir dire. If you're primarily talking about money in voir dire, then you are saying, "This case is about money." And here's what I want you to know, your case is never about money, ever. You think it is. They think it is. Somebody's got to change this conversation.
Money is so limited. Money doesn't bring back people we love who have died due to someone's negligence. Money doesn't make limbs grow back. Money doesn't heal brains. Make your case about money and you will lose. You heard it here first. Money is limiting. That is never what your case is about. But if you are focusing the conversation on money, then we are going to have all sorts of problems. Your case is about holding bad actors accountable. Your case is about holding irresponsible people responsible. It's about balancing the scales by using money, yes, as limited as it is to make up for what we lost because that's the best that we've got, but it's not about money. It's about making things right in the limited reality that we have as right as we can, which is never, ever quite good enough.
So when I say, "Then I can predict what a juror's going to say,' I know that what they're going to say is because they're human, right? They're going to say that they don't like lawsuits because nobody likes to be in the middle of an argument, and that's what we do to jurors. I know that they're going to say that they can't tell you they can give you $10 million for pain and suffering because there's no context. They don't know anything yet. I know they're going to say that they do believe that if you break something, you buy it. They do believe that people who have hurt someone should make it right. I do know that because that is the majority of people have been raised by parents who have taught them those things.
We could talk all day long about how terrible jurors are and how they tank everything for us. The point is, is that when you make your case about money, you're going to get what you give. You say, "This is about money. Who can give money?" And they're like, "No." And you're like, "See." Well, you are the one that started it. But when you make your case about holding people accountable, holding people responsible, giving money in a death case because that money communicates that this life meant something, now you're changing the conversation. Now you are refocusing the jury on what you're actually there to do. And by the way, even if you don't win, you've still done what you were there to do. You say, "Well, I haven't held anybody accountable unless the jury finds for me." Bullshit. Of course, you have.
Listen, a lot of you have eight figure settlements, but you can't talk about it. The corporation threw money at the problem and yeah, hit them in the pocketbook, but nobody knows about their shame about what they've done. I'm not saying settling is always the wrong thing to do. I'm saying that when you bring someone to court, you're doing something just by that act alone. You're holding them to a... you're saying, "Come in here and take responsibility for this. Show your face. What do you have to say for yourself?" Right? Now, whether the jury buys their argument or not, that's a whole other ball of wax. But you are holding people accountable by just merely going to trial.
So what is the one thing that y'all are doing that's going to tank your case? It's focusing on money and making your case about money. Your case is not about money. Your case is about the human principles, the way that we are in the world, the emotions, the love that was lost, the hobbies we can no longer do. That's what your case is about. The humanness, the human experience. Make it about money and you cheapen it. And I know that you're thinking, "Yeah, but I got to know if they can give money, so I got to ask them." Most of the time when you're asking, they're not going to give you the real answer because again, it's in a vacuum.
Now, in the H2H Playground, we teach you how to talk about money in voir dire and we teach you how to make it a resonant conversation and how we make money as like kind of afterthought, not the whole deal. Once you get them where you need them to be by going through principles and doing all the things, then you can have a conversation about money as a secondary thing. But stop making your cases about money and instead focus on what they're actually about, which is the human experience, the value of the human things that we are on this earth to do and what happens when those things are taken away.
All right, so I'm looking here and I want to see if there are any comments. I don't see any comments right now. Are there any comments, Kevin? Nope. No comments. Does anybody have a question? A question. I'm here ready to answer your questions about money or anything else. If you're here and you're watching, let me know where you're watching from. Otherwise, I'm going to go ahead and sign off.
Again, we will be live podcasting every single month except for July, because we take July off. So if you don't have something scheduled for vacation, you want to definitely do that. Take a hint from your Finnish mother and go get some rest and relaxation. All right, my friends, talk soon.
Have you ever wished that you knew what the jury was thinking? Well, grab a pen and paper because I'm about to give you instant access to a free training I created for plaintiff trial attorneys called 3 Powerful Strategies to Help You Read a Juror's Mind. It's going to help you to understand what the jury is thinking so you'll feel confident to trust them and yourself in the courtroom. Ready for the address? Go to sariswears.com/jury. Enjoy.
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