By Dr. Shelley Spiecker:
‘Precious resource’ in the energy industry typically refers to a saleable commodity like a coal seam or shale play. Yet when an energy company finds itself in the courtroom, it is not coal nor shale, but industry-friendly jurors that are a ‘precious resource’. I recently spoke at the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law’s 61st Annual Conference in Anchorage, Alaska about how the trend of more favorable public perception is impacting litigation strategies for energy companies. Returning home after the Conference, I received an email from an attorney who attended and had a response to my presentation. He said, “What do I do when I have to select a jury with no voir dire opportunity? Is there a single juror characteristic predictive of favorability that I can know simply from reading a juror’s information card?”
For readers following our blog, you know we emphasize the importance of juror attitudes in predicting juror bias. But to uncover attitudes requires the ability to question jurors during voir dire, which the attorney emailing me indicated he is increasingly unable to do. So to answer his question I needed to turn to demographic characteristics to see if there is a single key variable that significantly predicts juror industry favorability.