Tarrant County Prosecutor: Picking Jurors Is A Lot Like Taming Horses
Katie Woods hasn’t always been an assistant district attorney for Tarrant County.
As Texas Lawyer magazine pointed out in a recent profile of Woods, who was hired by the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office last year, she is also a former Miss Rodeo USA who believes “there are a lot of similarities between lawyering and rodeoing.”
In fact, Woods told the magazine, the process of voir dire, or the process of selecting jurors, isn’t all that different from getting a horse to do exactly what you want it to do.
“You’re always sizing up your competition. . . . You want to know what you’re up against to be successful in what you’re doing,” says Woods, who says her rodeo background also helps her in voir dire because she knows how to make a jury like her — “[m]uch like you want a horse to trust you and follow you wherever you want to go,” she says.
Manipulating jurors, though obviously a part of any attorney’s job, is a subject of frequent controversy, especially in cases of wrongful convictions. For example, many civil rights groups would argue that it’s not an “impartial jury,” as the Constitution’s Sixth Amendment requires, when all the jurors are white and the defendant is black (which is part of why most wrongful convictions are of blacks and Hispanics).
So to compare the “persuasion” of jurors to the taming of horses is probably not a good idea.
It’s fair to say, however, that the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office loves its rodeo-queen prosecutor. The site has several photos of Woods wrastlin’ with cows and holding her medals and a story about her headlined “This Cowgirl’s No Outlaw.”
There’s even one of her wearing her tiara-wrapped cowboy hat when she was named Miss Rodeo USA in 2004.