Attorney Jessica Dean is a partner in the Dallas-based law firm of Dean Omar Branham Shirley. She has built a reputation as one of the most respected plaintiffs’ attorneys in the nation, fighting for the rights of working-class families and taking over some of the world’s largest corporations.
According to Dean, the jury is the biggest variable in a trial. Dealing with the jury is key to success as the jury is the ultimate decision maker.
How does Jessica Dean interact with juries to build trust and get results? From opening statements to closing arguments, Dean takes a candid and humane approach to engaging with jurors. Below, she describes some of the lessons she’s learned dealing with juries during her 20 years as a lawyer.
Give clear instructions
Juries often know little or nothing about the legal process. While being briefed by the judge and bailiff of their duties, attorneys should formulate their arguments to call the jury to action on the specifics of the case.
Jessica Dean argues that it’s important to tell the jury exactly what to do and give them the steps to do it.
She uses the jury fee as the basis for preparing her jury instructions. In this way, the jury recognizes the language and terms they are using and begins to form a clear picture of how to act.
“I literally go through every part [of the jury charge] that informs that question in the law, digests with the facts, and then has an answer with a big tick,” says Jessica Dean.
The human mind can only process so much information at once. Unfortunately, attorneys provide the jury with vast amounts of information during opening and closing statements. To make the information more digestible and actionable, Attorney Jessica Dean conveys her instructions to the jury in a consistent and repetitive manner.
She uses the verdict form to connect her instructions to something known to the jury.
“I take out every single question [from the verdict form]. For each question, I provide the jury with the law and the evidence, and then suggest how they should answer. Second question, law, evidence, etc.,” says Dean.
Not only are Dean’s statements consistent with her arguments, but they are also consistent with the jury’s materials. This has the potential to significantly increase the jury’s recall of their arguments.
listen to judges
Many attorneys are so focused on their arguments that they forget to listen to individual jurors, but jurors can provide important clues as to how they might react to an attorney’s strategy.
Dean describes a case where she changed course due to a juror’s comment during the jury selection process.
“I spent a lot of time with him because he talked and I could appreciate that
reactions of everyone else in the room. He made an offhand comment about how
He wouldn’t limit the damage, but he kept saying he would definitely be more
When it comes to compensation, Dean typically recommends compensation of one million per year of life lost. She decided not to set an arbitrary limit based on that juror’s comments and instead use his own words in her argument to appeal to him.
She had hoped to get $13 million in damages with her “million-a-year” argument. Because she listened to the jury and changed course, the plaintiff was awarded $80 million.
Appeal to anger, not sympathy
According to Jessica Dean, juries respond better to anger and justice than to sympathy. When a jury feels sorry for the plaintiff, it doesn’t necessarily mean the defendant understands wrongdoing.
“I don’t want you to think I’m describing things to get your sympathy,” says Dean. “I want you to understand that something is wrong.”
Emotional connection with a jury is key, but not all emotional appeals are effective. Jessica Dean demonstrates her own anger to impress the jury and demonstrate the wrongdoing of her opposition. She also hopes to transfer that anger to every juror. Juries should feel emotionally charged to take action, and anger is a highly motivating emotion.
Inspire action with hope
Anger isn’t the only emotion Dean stirs up in the jury to get results. She also argues that hope is a powerful motivator.
“People aren’t motivated by sadness, they’re motivated by hope,” she explains.
Sob stories can make some jurors feel manipulated. Alternatively, personal stories and humanizing anecdotes put the jury in the plaintiff’s shoes, building strong connections and conveying the plaintiff’s hopes.
“I think that motivates people in a more subtle but powerful way,” says Dean.
About Jessica Dean
Jessica Dean is a plaintiffs attorney and a partner in the Dallas-based law firm of Dean Omar Branham Shirley. She has practiced law for almost 20 years and specializes in representing mesothelioma victims. In 2021, Dean was named a Top 500 Consumer Litigation Attorney by Lawdragon. She is one of the most accomplished and respected mesothelioma attorneys in the United States
DISCLAIMER: Branded Voices contains paid content from our marketing partners. Articles are not created by Native News Online staff. The views and opinions expressed in Branded Voices are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policies or position of Native News Online or its ownership. All content provided by our bloggers or authors is their opinion and not intended to slander any religion, ethnic group, association, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.