How are you able to change the minds of jurors who come in on day one believing your client is guilty?
Admittedly, as criminal defense attorneys in white collar cases, if we find ourselves in front of a jury, we have already lost most of the battle. But in those circumstances where we cannot avoid a decision by those 12 folks tried and true, how do we snatch victory from the jaws of defeat? We need to understand how juries attribute intent, break it down into elements, and distinguish our clients from those elements every chance we get.
What kind of assumptions do jurors make?
Attribution of intent often happens because jurors typically believe that people think and act in the same way as they would. Social psychologists have made it clear that people commonly assume, often to an unwarranted degree, that their attitudes are shared by others. Thus, jurors infer intentions in others because they are aware of them in themselves.
Social psychologists tell us that to attribute intent, our jurors want to hear that our client was trying to accomplish something he wanted and had the knowledge relevant to the attempt. But that is not enough. The psychologists tell us that jurors also want to hear that our client was recognizably doing the sort of thing one would do in order to accomplish the act and that it was no accident. A defense attorney, therefore, must take steps to make sure that jurors do not hear these things!