Jury Trials and Duck Hunting

I never knew I wanted to be a lawyer, I’m still not really sure I do now. However, from around age eight I have been an avid duck hunter.  I have come to find some amazing similarities between being a duck hunter and lawyering, and maybe that is why I keep coming to work each day.

In the world of being a lawyer, the jury trial is the equivalent of the opening day hunt for a duck hunter.  Everything you do for the rest of the year is preparation and anticipation for opening day.duckhunt

In a jury trial, voir dire is your first chance to actually see the jury, and your only chance to have them talk back to you.  When you are duck hunting, just before the sun comes up, you have your first chance to converse with the ducks.  You call and they talk back.  The rest of the of the hunt progresses as a jury trial.

After your initial conversation with the jury, you have spotted which jurors you want, just as you have spotted the group of ducks which you want to work.  In a jury trial, your next move is an opening statement. This is where you make your initial plea to the jury, you tell them your side.  In duck hunting, you want to make your spread of decoys look the most appealing. You want to make your calling the most believable.  You want the jury of ducks to choose your spread, just as you want the jury to choose your side.

Several steps still lay between killing the duck and getting the jury’s verdict.  After making your initial statement to the jury, you now have the chance to call witnesses in direct examination.  Just as you select your best witnesses for direct, you choose your favorite call for this step in the hunt.  The ducks are starting to circle the trees; they are listening to your call.  The jury is listening to your conversation with the witness.  Both the ducks and the jury are deciding what they think about your performance.

Everything can seem to be going your way, but then comes cross examination.  Things can be brought out that you did not want exposed.  Just like hitting a bad note on your call or moving suddenly, many things can flair the ducks you are working.  Bad facts or a nervous witness can flair the jury.

But do not fear, all is not lost.  Just as soon as you start to flair a group of ducks, you can sweet talk them back.  The same is true for a jury.  You just have to keep the ducks circling and the jury hooked.

Now you have made it to closing arguments.  Everything is on the line.  You must make your final argument, hit those last few sweet notes on that old cutdown.  Make them commit. Make the jury want to believe you.  Just as you make the ducks cup up and sail through the trees, you drop your call, raise your gun and take the shot—Not Guilty.