Posted by Doreen Higgins on Jun 06, 2019
Our member Dwight Feemster told us about juries, their selection, behavior, legal requirements, and issues as they attempt to understand the complexities of a trial and reach a verdict. Dwight is a partner in the law firm Duffy & Feemster in Savannah. Dwight graduated from Law School in 1982, is a member of the State Bar of Georgia and of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association.
 
Dwight told us the details of a jury’s recruitment, selection, duty, and the verdict which completes its obligation.

First, a pool of jurors is selected from a list of driver licenses or voter registration lists. From this pool the lawyers involved select the jury to hear a case. In the course of this process lawyers on both sides of the case examine the potential jurors to see if they are competent, suitable, and to allow the lawyers to assess the mind-set of each juror as being favorable to, or at least not prejudiced against, their client and/or his or her case. In order to sharpen their acuity in selecting or rejecting jurors for a trial, lawyers employ various tactics, including focus groups, to assess attitudes towards the behavior and the persons who are the subjects of the trial.

Once selected, a jury has to learn to apply various legal principles. These are:
  • Presumption of innocence and burden of proof
  • Preponderance of the evidence/Beyond a reasonable doubt
Dwight went on to explain the techniques of closing arguments and the final charge to the jury.   Then the judge explains to the jury the essence of how to conduct themselves, how to debate with each other, including the importance of an open mind in listening to the opinions of other jurors and the need for unanimity. The jury is then retired to deliberate on what they have heard and instructed to come to a verdict.
 
Below is a photo of Dwight and Past President Toni Marwitz