Jury selection is an art that is mastered by those attorneys who take the time to understand the dynamics and demographics of their own community. The advantage of a local attorney is that they understand the history, the local politics, local issues that affect the community, and the issues (in general) that a potential juror may have with regards to accident lawsuits.
For example, Staten Island has a history that distances it from its municipal center, Manhattan. This Island is geographically distant and culturally different than “the city.” Its citizens have endured the brunt of bad jokes and the depository of the entire city’s refuse. Thus, when a party reflects an inclination that would favor “the city” or Manhattan, a juror may perceive this negatively (the same way a country person might perceive a city person). When your client is a Staten Islander, you need to convey the message to a potential juror that your client is a neighbor, a parent, a worker, etc that has roots on the Island.
Also, the politics of the Island is important when addressing a roomful of potential jurors. The issues that reflect populist opinions may be implicit to a Staten Island attorney, but not so with an attorney from another part of the city. For example, a local attorney would understand that Hylan Boulevard is a dangerous roadway and is heavily traversed during rush hour. I recently had a case that involved a Staten Island driver and a vehicle owned by the New York City Police Department. The police report indicated that the accident took place at 9 am on Hylan Boulevard. It also indicated that the police were “unable to find any witnesses to the accident.” As an attorney that lives and works on Staten Island, I knew that jurors would not appreciate this obvious discrepancy. It was almost insulting that that police would state in an official report that no witnesses could be located on the busiest street on the Island during the busiest time of day!
Another issue to be aware of when selecting a potential juror on Staten Island is that they are acutely aware of the fact that most accidents are covered under some form of insurance. The jurors quite often own their own homes and also pay an annual premium for homeowner’s insurance. They (mistakenly) believe that lawsuits are the cause of their high annual premiums. A local attorney needs to be aware of this and somehow debunk the myth that because of your client’s case that somehow their rates will increase. One of the ways is to personalize your client and to make the jury understand how your client suffered and how your client is entitled to be compensated for his or her loss.
In conclusion, when choosing an attorney, is is best to take into account whether that attorney has ties to the community and has experience with the local scene. The nuances of local life and politics could tip the scales ever so slightly as to allow you to win your case.