Colorado Method Training

Overview | Instructor Bios | Article | Syllabus


Overview of the Colorado Method techniques addressed in this introduction to the method:

The plenary presentations will provide an introduction to the method, including:

  • Stripping Language
  • Learning the Punishment Views of a Prospective Juror
  • Developing Impairments on a Death-Biased Juror
  • Developing the Record to Protect a Potential Life Voting Juror
  • Insulation & Isolation Techniques
  • Teaching Respect
  • Getting Life Out of the Jury Room

In the small group practice sessions the participants will get up on their feet and practice three critical portions of the Colorado Method:

  • Stripping Language
  • Insulation & Isolation Techniques
  • Teaching Respect

Stripping:
The process used at the beginning of individual voir dire to set the proper context for learning a prospective juror's views on the death penalty and life imprisonment without parole. This process involves asking the juror to consider a hypothetical situation in which the juror was sitting on a different capital case and the juror and the other eleven jurors unanimously found that defendant was guilty of capital murder. We are "stripping" away culpability trial defenses and extraneous circumstances from the juror's consideration before asking about the juror's punishment views.

Learning the Punishment Views of a Prospective Juror:
After the "strip questions" we ask open ended questions to elicit information from the juror about their views on the death penalty and life imprisonment without release. When we are seeking to learn a prospective juror's feelings and views, we strive to create an atmosphere of candor and respect for all views. We use the Juror Questionnaire and ask follow up questions to help us determine the juror's views. We rate the juror on a scale of 1 to 7. (In many instances, if we have a good Juror Questionnaire that includes a "strip" question to set the appropriate context for eliciting punishment views and meaningful case-specific or case-category questions, we will be able to rate the prospective juror based on the Juror Questionnaire and prior to voir dire. In this instance we may choose to avoid open-ended questioning.)

Developing Impairments on a Death-Biased Juror:
The goal is to create a record of the juror's (multiple) impairments normally utilizing leading questions and frequently referencing responses the juror provided previously in the juror questionnaire.

Developing the Record to Protect a Potential Life Voting Juror:
The government will attempt to have life scrupled jurors disqualified on a cause challenge. Our goal is to create a record of the juror's qualification (ability to give meaningful consideration of both sentencing options) normally utilizing leading questions.

Insulation & Isolation Techniques:
The term “Insulate and Isolate” addresses two concepts. First, “insulate” refers to ensuring the juror understands that every juror will be treated with dignity and respect, and in a capital sentencing hearing each juror makes an individual, personal moral assessment (not necessarily explainable in logic or referencing specific facts) and it must be reported by the juror and the foreperson to the judge. Second, “isolate” refers to ensuring the juror understands each juror individually (i.e. in “isolation”) has the responsibility for making the decision about whether the defendant will live or die.

Teaching Respect:
"Insulation and Isolation" with an emphasis on respect. The emphasis of aspects of the "Insulation and Isolation" techniques vary depending on the rating of the juror. The "respect" portions of the technique will be emphasized with a pro death juror. And the "discretion" and "empowerment" portions of the technique will be emphasized with a potential life voting juror.

Getting Life Out of the Jury Room:
Techniques to ensure the jurors understand how to get a life vote out of the jury room.