Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Picking a Jury in Harris County on Resisting Arrest Charges as a Second Chair

The adage is that you win trial in jury selection.

I meandering into Harris County Court 14 the other day expecting to pick a jury for my client's case. It was the ninth trial setting, after all.  Instead, the court chose to go with an a resisting arrest case on its first trial setting. 

No Rhyme.  No Reason.

I just so happened to know the lawyer who was defending the young Puerto Rican accused of resisting arrest.  The poor kid was jumped by a cop and sent to the hospital for some stitches and bruised ribs before he was booked in jail.  Of note, the 5'5 cop who was clearly inflicted by Napoleon Syndrome, was working an extra job at twin peaks.  Knowing the lawyer, and having helped him before in a DWI trial, I helped him pick the jury.

I knew nothing about the case until about 15 minutes before jury selection, but what I did know was my obligation as a second chair.  For any new lawyers that may stumble upon my blog, a second chair is a lawyer who assists another lawyer during trial.  Sometime second chairs take the role of observer and whisperer of ideas.  Other times, second chairs may have the opportunity to conduct examinations and arguments.  I have second chaired murders and sexual assaults to DWIs and simple assaults.  

No matter what, when second chairing, you have to be actively participating by seeing what there is to be seen, hearing what there is to be heard, and sharing your observations and ideas with the first chair.

In this particular resisting trial, my job was to determine who in the jury panel was ineligible to serve on the jury due to a bias or prejudice I identified two issues early on.  First, officer credibility. Second, how might an officer act after he worked a long shift on the job for HPD, then immediately worked a second shift as security.  The first chair, Paul Kendall, had the rest set up perfectly.  

I took tabs on who could not serve on the jury, and the judge agreed that I got them all correct.

As Paul was about to finish his voir dire, he asked me if there was anything else he needs to cover. I said, "Yes, ask the jury how an officer might feel after working his main job then going directly to his extra job.  Ask the jury what might effect the cop's judgment."  He asked and the answers followed. In fact, the first juror to speak said the exact word I was looking for, "cranky."  It was all gravy from there.

We got the 6 jurors we wanted on the panel.  Hell, we even got the guy who was previously convicted of resisting arrest on jury!

It certainly helped that Napoleon Dynamite testified it was as if his commands (to leave the parking lot) fell on deaf ears, because, well, the client was partially deaf.

Two Words:  Not Guilty.  

Congrats, Paul.