At our shop, we spend a lot of time thinking how to connect with juries. We constantly ask ourselves, how can we tell our client’s story in a way that resonates with the jury’s experience? As we all retreat into our smartphones and become less connected to each other, though ostensibly connected to the world, finding that common ground is becoming more difficult.
Perhaps that is why Sebastian Junger’s “Tribe, On Homecoming and Belonging” resonated with me. Junger asks, “How do you become an adult in a society that doesn’t ask for sacrifice? How do you become a man in a world that doesn’t require courage?” He answers his questions with, “Humans don’t mind hardship, in fact they thrive on it; what they mind is not feeling necessary. Modern society has perfected the art of making people not feel necessary. It’s time for that to end.” I agree. A jury’s experience at trial can and should be a way to make them “necessary” to society.
Junger goes on to describe human “needs” in a way that can be a call to action for a jury. “…human beings need three basic things in order to be content: they need to feel competent at what they do; they need to feel authentic in their lives; and they need to feel connected to others. These values are considered ‘intrinsic’ to human happiness and far outweigh ‘extrinsic’ values such as beauty, money and status.”
How many of us are aware of how our world works? Are we connected to anything outside of our daily routine? Not really. Junger makes the point that we are “disconnected from just about everything. Farming, mineral extraction, gas and oil production, bulk cargo transport, logging, fishing, infrastructure construction–all the industries that keep the nation going are mostly unacknowledged by the people who depend on them most.” Junger’s solution: “When people are actively engaged in a cause their lives have more purpose… with a resulting improvement in mental health…”
When presenting your case, give jury members a cause, even if just for a week or two.