After one jury deadlocked, King County prosecutors said they would not retry Marc and Elizabeth Hokoana, who were charged with assaulting protestor Joshua Dukes at a University of Washington event in January 2017.

Yiannopoulos, a former Breitbart editor and outspoken conservative, was scheduled to speak on campus on Inauguration Day 2017. Emotions were high, as some protestors were incensed over the inauguration of President Donald Trump. The tense confrontation soon became violent. During the melee, Dukes allegedly threatened the Hokoanas.

Prosecutors depicted the Hokoanas as right-wing militants who were looking for trouble. “I’m just going to wade through their ranks and start cracking skulls,” Marc posted on social media. The defense claimed the incident was a pure case of self-defense. Elizabeth told jurors she thought Dukes was going to “gut” her husband with a knife. “It was him or my darling,” she testified. She shot Dukes at close range, but Dukes survived.

Jurors reportedly split along ideological lines. A spokesperson for King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg said that his office “has carefully reviewed the evidence produced at trial” and decided it was “unlikely that a retrial would produce a unanimous verdict.”

“Proceeding to any jury trial poses risks to both sides.  An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to create as much doubt as possible in the prosecution’s evidence.”noted Seattle criminal defense attorney Lennard A. Nahajski. “however, the jury is the ultimate fact finder.

That approach begins during jury selection. Juror information cards may seem like useless trivia, but each question means something. For example, people who own their own homes are more conservative than people who rent, at least in most cases.

The objective is to identify the leaders for the other side and eliminate them if possible, Nahajski explained. That process usually involves either a challenge for cause or a peremptory challenge. Judges remove jurors for cause if they verbally express a bias and the other lawyer cannot rehabilitate them. Lawyers use peremptory challenges to remove unwanted jurors. Lawyers cannot use peremptory challenges for illegal; reasons, such as removing a person because of race.

Next, a defense attorney must make the defendant sympathetic. References to the defendant are often important. For example, a lawyer may call the defendant “Mr. Harris” at the beginning of a trial. Later, the defendant becomes “Richard” and then “Rick.” That progression helps the jury sympathize with the defendant.

Selection and sympathy are useless without a legal hook. There must be something for jurors to “hang their hats on,” such as an evidentiary flaw or, in the above case, self-defense. It does not matter if the legal hook is convincing or not. Sympathetic jurors just need a reason to vote in favor of the defendant.