Kyle McNew is a bright and upcoming young trial lawyer who clerked for a federal district judge and then with federal circuit judge. Recently, he sent me an e-mail about his experience while clerking for the district judge. I was impressed by the e-mail because Kyle articulated why I think speaking to jurors after a trial is very worthwhile.
I asked Kyle if I could reprint a portion of his e-mail and he agreed. Here it is:
I just read your post about interviewing jurors.
. . . .
[One of my first assignments] was to be the clerk on a 4 month, multi-defendant white collar criminal jury trial. All of the defendants had unlimited defense funds, so these were the best white collar attorneys in DC up against some of the best white collar prosecutors DOJ had to offer. I had graduated law school in May, took the bar exam in July. This trial started the first week of October. The entire experience was incredible, and I can truly say that I know first hand what it is like to drink from a fire hose. But the highlight of the trial was spending about 5 hours with the jury after they rendered their verdict. The jury came back at about 10 am on the 5th day of deliberations. My judge had me reserve a private room at a very nice restaurant just down the street [from the courthouse] for lunch. The jury delivered its verdict (not guilty across the board) and off we went to lunch. . . . We never asked them why they did what they did, because it was obvious. Instead, we asked what worked, what didn’t, what they thought of the process, what could be done better, etc. For an aspiring trial lawyer, it was like manna from heaven. We did the same (sans fancy lunch) for every other trial we had, but that lunch session was the absolute highlight.
As a trial lawyer, I still try to speak to jurors as much as possible. To their credit, they usually don’t want to, so we often hire a jury consultant to contact them and frame their inquiries in terms of research. Less valuable than being able to speak with them face to face, but still valuable.
Kyle was fortunate indeed to work for a trial judge who cared enough about jurors and young law clerks that he was willing to spend a lot of time listening to and educating them both. What an incredible experience for the jurors and for Kyle.
Thank you Kyle for sharing your experience.