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This is the third week of jury selection in the trial of Justin Ross Harris, who is accused of purposely leaving his 22-month-old son, Cooper, to die in a hot car in 2014.
More than two dozen jurors have already qualified to hear the “hot car” death case.
Matthew McCoyd, a former district attorney of DeKalb County, teaches a class on jury selection at Emory University.
He said the jury selection process is like the intersection of law and psychology and that it’s also the only time the attorneys can talk to the jurors.
“The lawyers are establishing their individual, personal credibility with the jurors when they’re talking to them,” McCoyd said.
During that time, lawyers on both sides have to discover the character of the people standing before them.
“It’s much more of a ‘I’m going to ask questions, try to get this individual juror talking to me so that I can get a better understanding of whether they’ll listen to me and whether they have any preconceived notions,’” McCoyd said.
The lawyers have to do more than just listen to the answers potential jurors give during the process.
“If they shudder. If the thought of this crime makes them wince and they can’t even look you in the eye when talking about it, that might not be a good person for the defense. If, in fact, they talk about in a matter-of-fact tone, as in people get wrongly accused all the time, and it’s not something they have an issue undoing … you have to be intuitive,” Atlanta-based attorney Randy Kessler said.
The prosecution is not seeking the death penalty.