From Dharun Ravi to John Goodman: The Man Behind the Juries


Dubin argued that today's media attention on high-profile cases makes it especially hard for the defense to identify jurors who will review the facts with a "presumption of innocence."

"An effective jury consultant can help level the playing field, especially in a criminal case," said Dubin.

Barry Scheck, co-director of The Innocence Project, agreed. Scheck's group works to exonerate those they believe have been wrongly convicted through DNA testing. He has worked with Dubin for nearly a decade.

"Nothing is more important than the selection of a fair juror," Scheck said.

Gerald Lefcourt, a criminal defense lawyer who has consulted Dubin on nearly 30 cases in the past decade, said the work that Dubin and other jury consultants do can have a critical impact on a case.

"In terms of influencing the verdict, I'd estimate that jury selection is 30 to 50 percent of the case, depending on the facts of the trial," he said.

Finding Fairness

Dubin notes that the jury selection process has changed over the course of his career. "You don't have the ability to select anyone," said Dubin. "Jury selection is the wrong name for this. It should be jury de-selection. You only have the ability to knock off [potential jurors.]"

Earlier this year, Dubin worked closely with nationally renowned defense attorney Roy Black on the high-profile case of John Goodman, the Florida polo tycoon convicted of DUI-manslaughter and vehicular homicide.

"The Goodman case was a soap opera in Palm Beach, and it was virtually impossible to pick an unbiased jury," Black said.

Dubin points to one juror on that case as an example of his frustrations.

"In the John Goodman case, a juror had three vodka tonics during deliberation to see how it would feel to be as intoxicated as the defendant…he was also taking notes in the evening and writing a book about the case," Dubin said.

Dubin and the defense team are appealing the case on grounds of jury misconduct. The appeal is pending before the Fourth District Court of Appeals.

"It's easy to tell when people don't want to sit on the jury, but it's very difficult to weed out individuals who actually want to be on a jury since they're often willing to lie and say what they think the court wants to hear," said Black. "They can have an agenda from the beginning."

Despite negative press surrounding the case, Dubin found a more sympathetic jury for the 2005 money laundering case involving the Murder Inc. Record founders, Irv and Chris Lorenzo "Gotti."

"Many members of the community already had a negative impression of the rap industry, and we needed to be careful about who we selected," said Lefcourt.

Lefcourt brought in Dubin as an advisor on the case. "He has a unique sense of who needs to be stricken from the jury," said Lefcourt. "You can never pick the perfect jury, so it's more important to identify which jurors might threaten your whole case."

The Lorenzo brothers were acquitted of all charges in that case.

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