The Non-Religious Juror: A Growing Population

 

In this interesting article by the folks at Keene Trial Consulting, they discuss findings by the Pew Research Centers on changing American demographics, and how this may affect juror pools.  What I found particularly intriguing was the finding that the number of Americans who identified themselves as “religiously unaffiliated” grew sharply from 35.6 million in 2007 to 55.8 million in 2013.  This number includes those who formally declare themselves to be atheists as well as those who merely do not identify with a particular establish religion or are “religiously unsure”.

As Americans change, so does American jury pools.  As trial attorneys it pays to be mindful of this fact.  Persuasion is all about matching the message to the audience.  If a trial attorney goes down a path of persuasion that doesn’t take into account the mindset of the jurors, he or she risks starting off at a significant disadvantage. Religious-based defense pleas for mercy or compassion on the one side, or for prosecutorial calls for order and retribution on the other, may increasingly come across as tone-deaf to an audience of jurors who are not as deeply steeped in the religious traditions of previous generations.

 

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