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New Twist on Wyoming Jury Duty



September 15, 2011

LARAMIE, Wyo. - Wyomingites can get a behind-the-scenes peek at the court system this weekend by serving on a jury. Volunteers are needed for the fourth annual University of Wyoming College of Law voir dire competition, when the next generation of lawyers will hone their skills in selecting juries for civil and criminal trials.

Cheyenne attorney Lori Brand came up with the idea for the competition. She explains that lawyers have to "unlearn" some things they learn in law school in order to successfully select jurors who will listen fairly to their client's story.

"You start talking like a lawyer, and you have your own jargon, and that can be very distancing from potential jurors."

The Wyoming Trial Lawyers Association (WTLA) sponsors the Saturday event. Teams of students will compete.

WTLA Executive Director Marcia Shanor says while the event was designed to help train law students, it also educates the public.

"You can see how the justice system works - understand how important it is and what a great right it is for us to have our disputes settled by a jury of our peers."

Brand points out that tort reform, corporate limited liabilities and forced arbitration are often hot political debate topics. She says the public needs to understand that those things infringe on personal rights and the ability to hold companies, individuals and government accountable.

"The trial by jury is one of the most important rights that we have in this country, and it's under constant attack."

The competition, which is open to the public, will be at the UW College of Law building, Room 170. Sessions will be held in the morning and afternoon, and meals and snacks will be provided.

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - WY
 

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