At the National Law Journal, Leonard Post writes about jurors who use their professional experience to unfairly dominate jury deliberations. In "Dealing With Jurors' Expertise," Post highlights the problem with a quote from a Nixon Peabody litigator:
If a juror has applicable professional expertise and uses that expertise to make a new point in deliberations -- which may be wrong -- there is no ability by either side to respond to it. The result is that you have a verdict based on one juror's conclusion -- not 12.
In New York, jurors are specifically instructed that they "may not communicate any personal professional expertise." This is contrary to the instruction found in many states that jurors should use their experience and common sense in reaching their decision. Not surprisingly, the New York instruction comes in for a lot of criticism in the article.
Isn't jury selection the better time to address any potential problems caused by juror experience? As one judge said in the article, "Lawyers who allow a juror with professional expertise on a jury in a case that involves that expertise ought to have to live with the results." It's not a perfect solution, but staying atuned to the professional expertise of potential jurors during jury selection seems a better alternative than confusing jurors with an impossible-to-follow instruction.