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Behind Closed Doors

Rudin defense jury consultant talks about the deliberations

May 2, 2001

Court TV Host: We're going to be talking about the Margaret Rudin murder trial, or rather the unusual deliberations. From what we know that apparently the jury is split 11-1 on the charge of being an accessory to murder -- 11 for conviction, by the way. At one point it appeared that the jury had agreed to convict on that charge and were supposed to go home and sleep on it, but the one juror came back and said she'd changed her mind. The foreman of the jury also asked that that juror, #11, be excused. It also appears that that juror also had discussions with an alternate.

Court TV Host: We're going to be joined by a guest today who has a unique perspective on the case and on the jury. He is Marshall Hennington, who was the jury consultant to the Rudin defense team. He carefully looked at each of the jurors during jury selection.

Court TV Host: There is now word that the jury in the Rudin case HAS come to a verdict - and that it will be announced at 3pm Eastern time.

Court TV Host: By the way, if you want to look at Marshall Hennington's web site, it's www.juryconsulting.com

Court TV Host: Hello, Marshall Hennington is here! Welcome!

Marshall Hennington: Thank you all for logging on. Feel free to ask me any questions you might have in regard to the Rudin matter.

bigl98579: Do you think the one convinced the 11?

Marshall Hennington: I think that individual had some influence. To what degree, we're uncertain at this point. However, that individual is very opinionated, Courageous, and open-minded enough to consider certain key elements that were presented from both sides. Hopefully, she would have persuaded other jurors to embrace her viewpoint that Ms. Rudin should be acquitted.

ctv_warhorse46: What traits to you look for in a juror in a criminal trial?

Marshall Hennington: Each case has its own personality, just like each lawyer presenting the case. And depending on the dynamics of a case, we make sure that we take jurors that will champion the cause that the attorney is putting forth. More specifically with this case, we were looking for individuals that were principled, had good common sense -- because, as we all know, having good common sense is very uncommon -- and would question authority. Those were the traits we were looking for. As you know, juror #11 fit into that category.

ctv_warhorse46: Tell us your impression of juror #11.

evahheany: What do you think of juror #11?

tenscottie: Is # 11 male or female? Not that it matters?

Marshall Hennington: I don't want to go into specifics at this point, because I don't want to influence the outcome of the trial, but based on the questions that we asked juror #11 there is some valuable information regarding her past experiences about individuals that were wrongfully accused of committing crimes and the fact that she could keep an open mind to render a favorable decision for us.

timothy_b_06095: What did you consider when picking this jury?

Marshall Hennington: We looked at age, gender -- we were looking at sympathy, common sense. We were also looking at life experiences. Individuals that had experienced bad relationships and could relate to people that had been divorced more than once, as well as a whole host of other factors. Now, that does not mean that those particular characteristics are a blueprint for success. Those are just key elements that we thought were important in this matter.

tenscottie: Yes, well, did the consultant figure on # 11 being so feisty? LOL

Marshall Hennington: She was feisty during the questioning period. There is nothing wrong with feisty, we wanted people that would question authority and would be independent thinkers. We didn't want people that would go for the "okey doke." We didn't want followers, we wanted independent thinkers, we wanted them to question the players and how they impacted Ms. Rudin's life, most importantly, how they conspired to aversely affect her life. We also realized that it's oftentimes extremely hard to do what's right. Juror #11 appears at this point to be doing the right thing, that is, speak her mind regardless of peer pressure that she's facing. Being true to her own personal conviction.

timothy_b_06095: Surely you had to feel that way about all 12, didn't you?

Marshall Hennington: There were certain people that we knew would be more outspoken than others, but by and large, with every jury panel, you're going to have leaders and followers and she fit into the category of leader.

floydsis: Do you feel that she is the type of person that will give into pressure? It seems that the rest of the jury would like her off the panel.

Marshall Hennington: Of course they would like her off the panel, because they wanted to come to an early decision. It may appear in their eyes that she's being oppositional. In fact there's a lot that she brings to the party, so to speak, and they should respect her differing viewpoint.

Allen2U2: i Wouldn't want to be in her shoes! lol

Marshall Hennington: Let me just say this, that during jury deliberations, emotions run high, people don't want to make the wrong decision. In this case, the wrong decision could cost Margaret Rudin life in prison. You can just imagine that there are some intense session going on and probably a few heated arguments going on as well. There's nothing wrong with having an intellectual sparring contest.

floydsis: How do you think that the judge's emotions have figured into the deliberation process

Marshall Hennington: I've worked on a few other cases that have been tried before this particular judge, and his behavior is pretty much always the same. However, you're dealing with attorneys that push the envelope on both sides and there were times, in which he felt that he needed to take control of his courtroom. That's a healthy approach to me - you can't have chaos and mayhem going on. You have to make sure the jurors get valuable information. He did what he thought was necessary. I don't have any problem with the way the judge has conducted himself.

intrepid12001: #11 sounds like she is her own person...not to be bullied...must say, I respect that.

Marshall Hennington: I must say I agree with you. We all come from different environments, we all have different experiences to a certain extent, and the unique thing about this particular juror is that she appears to be an individual that somewhere in her moral fiber, is doing what she firmly believes is the right thing. And that in and of itself is a monumental feat when you are in the room with other people who don't share your viewpoints and want to discourage you from maintaining that viewpoint.

Court TV Host: Here's a follow up...

floydsis: I wasn't questioning if he was right or wrong, I was wondering how it might have figured into deliberations.

Marshall Hennington: Actually, it's going to be interesting when we do the post-verdict interview with the jurors how his behavior influenced the trial, and I'm heading over to the courthouse to speak to the jurors so I'll make sure to follow-up on that question.

nuanced39211: Do you know of any other cases where we on the outside have heard so much about what's going on during the deliberations inside?

Marshall Hennington: Well, I just recently was involved with another high-profile trial. And it never ceases to amaze me how many false rumors get started. It's almost seems like when we're all little kids and we play the game where there's a circle of people, the people to the right whisper something to the person next to them, by the time that information came full-circle that story was twisted. So, what one person shares with the media, by the time it's broadcast, it may be something very different, and that happens in every high profile trial. The fact is, you want to find out what the jurors' opinions are about this matter, you can't rely on the media, you have to get this information from the jurors, and this is with all due respect to the media.

Court TV Host: And the other question on everyone's mind...

spirit922000: What do you think the verdict will be?

Marshall Hennington: I think there's going to be some compromise in the verdict. That's where we're at at this point.

Court TV Host: Thanks, Marshall Hennington for joining us today.

Marshall Hennington: Thank you all very much for logging on. Some excellent questions, and now it's just a matter of playing the waiting game, and hopefully Ms. Rudin will have her day in court.

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