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High On Poker

Juror Tells

October 9th, 2017

I’m currently in the middle of a three week trial. One of the main aspects of the defense is that our client is lying about his injuries. The defendants telegraphed that they would be attacking my client’s credibility in all sources of ways, many of which are irrelevant or, at most, tangential, to the case itself. Things like repeatedly making reference to my client’s girlfriend since he is still married (but separated), attacking the institution from which he earned his degrees, and claiming that he plagiarized his book. Since we knew that the defendants were going to take this tactic, during opening statements, we made reference to the anticipated character assassination. The hope was that the jury would remember our opening statement and whenever one of these tangential issues come up, think, “Oh, this nonsense again,” rather than, “Oooh! Really? How scandalous!”

Last week, the defendants were going on and on about these topics, so I decided to see how the jury was reacting. As I reviewed their body language, I was reminded of poker. I was looking to see whether the jury was open and engaged, or turned off. My people reading skills are a bit dusty, at least in terms of poker, but like riding a bicycle, it all came back.

The most noticeable thing was that a couple of the jurors had their arms crossed. In a poker setting, a player sitting in this way before the cards are dealt is indicating a willingness to wait for good cards. In the middle of a hand, it may indicate that the person is defensive, perhaps because of a vulnerable hand or a bluff. In contrast, a player leaning into the table before the cards are dealt is indicating that he is impatient. Once the cards are dealt, leaning into the table may suggest interest in the hand – especially if you eliminate the possibility of reverse tells (otherwise, such an overt indication of eagerness may be a player acting strong because he is weak). Its safe to say in a trial setting, no jurors are sending out false tells.

Truth be told, I’m still not 100% sure what the crossed-arm stance meant in the context of the testimony. They may’ve been turned off by the questions, but they equally could’ve been turned off by the answers. I looked at the few players – um, I mean jurors – who had their arms closed and realized that they probably were empathizing with my client, since they were jurors who I generally saw as similar to the client. So, the crossed-arms hopefully indicated that they were mentally putting themselves in the plaintiff’s position and felt attacked. Of course, time will tell.

The other “tell” I noticed were jurors who were covering their mouths, or face with their hands. In a poker setting, particularly in a hand, such a move is a sign that the players is uncomfortable. In a bluff setting, the player may be trying to hide tells. Otherwise, its still a soothing habit – hiding one’s face – which indicates a certain level of discomfort, if not deceit.

I racked my brains trying to figure out what the hand-covered-faces meant. Honestly, it could just be boredom, which works for me as well (I rather they be bored by the attack than engaged). But otherwise, it likely meant that – like the cross-armed jurors – they were putting themselves in the place of the witness and consequently felt uncomfortable. I suppose they could have been uncomfortable by the answers they heard. Like poker tells, ultimately, until showdown (or in our case, verdict), you cannot say with certainty what’s going on inside a player’s (juror’s) head.

After the day had ended, I suddenly felt the poker itch. I don’t see when I will be able to scratch it, but it has been a while since I even thought of the game, so it was nice to return to that mindset for a moment. Alas, at least until this trial is done (and the one after it), there will be no poker for me. Maybe I’ll check out www.bestusacasinosites.com when done to see what options are available to US players.

Until next time, make mine poker!

One Response to “Juror Tells”

  1. kipper01

    what was the outcome? Please “tell”

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