Jury Selection Theories of Sam Leibowitz


sam leibowitzI often read biographies of famous criminal trial lawyers. They have lead very interesting lives and one can always learn from other criminal lawyers. I am always interested to find other lawyers opinions on jury selection. Currently I am reading the biography of Samuel Leibowitz, (Not Guilty-The Story Of Samuel Leibowitz by Fred Pasley) who was a famous criminal lawyer who practiced primarily in New York in the 1920’s and 1930’s.

Leibowitz said ” A criminal lawyer is a failure unless he is a born psychologist. He has to know and feel human nature. He has to be able to tell from a man’s face what is going on in his mind” Leibowitz classified potential jurors as either “rope pullers” (bad for his client) or ” let livers”. “Let Livers” could be rich or poor and young and old. Leibowitz particularly liked men who travel for a living such as commercial salesmen. These jurors were interested in people and are tolerate of other view points. They are also good listeners.

Leibowitz did not like self made men who were too assertive because they have an attitude of contempt for the defendant and have no sympathy. He also did not care for writers because they “invariably construct their own case, based upon dramatic values, and ignore the law and facts.”

One of Leibowitz most interesting observations was that he wanted to figure out what a juror was like as a baby. If he was a cry baby then he would grow up to be a reformer and would make a bad juror for the defendant. How Leibowitz could determine what type of infant a potential juror was he did not say other than a criminal lawyer should be an expert in recognizing human nature in jurors.




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