Members (Jury) leaders.

Barbara Rich Bushell, Identifying Leaders, 21(5) The Jury Expert, Sept. 2009.

When I initially read this piece I did not see any relevance to a military Members panel (the jury).  The military “foreperson” is preselected, and will be automatically selected after challenges – it’s the senior Member by rank and date of rank.   However, after a few more readings there do seem to be some potential ideas from the piece.  So lets moot a little.

1.  The senior member is not a leader in the traditional military sense and will defer to others in certain situations – maybe she’s the medical type.  You need to know who the alternate leader is, the one who is likely to take over in the deliberation room.  And having been there done that with a (non prior enlisted) O-3 senior member and a sergeant major on the panel, well . . . . .  you get the picture.

2.  The senior member takes her responsibilities to be fair and not impose on the other members, so defers or allows others to lead to ensure open and free discussion.  You need to know who the alternate leader is, same as 1 above.

3.  The answer to questions 1. and 2. may not become known until the trial is in progress.  But at some point you need to know your audience.  Unlike civilian trials requiring unanimity, the two-thirds decision doesn’t help.  But, by identifying the “types” of members maybe the issues can be pitched or focused to that or those members.  I think we’ve all been in situations where we “write-off” certain members as predisposed against the client, and then we focus on those who seem interested, etc.

4.  While the senior member is already “picked,” how he or she might act in the deliberation room toward her own decision and getting the other members to decide is important to know.

Just another data point for thought.

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