Nilgün Aykent Zahour, Esq.

Founding Attorney & President – SM JUROR
Host of  SM JUROR’S podcast, JUROR MISCONDUCT LAW in REVIEW, CLE Provider, & Juror Misconduct Legal Strategist

P: 630-849-3070

​Prior to founding SM JUROR, and for the last thirty years, Ms. Zahour concentrated her legal practice in the areas of medical malpractice defense, insurance defense, general litigation and appellate law in Chicago, Illinois, where she primarily represented physicians, hospitals, and other medical providers. She has successfully defended and tried multi-million dollar medical negligence and product liability cases in Cook County, DuPage County, and Kane County, Illinois. She also has a successful appellate practice, and has won multiple appeals, including Illinois Tool Works, Inc. v. Independent Machine Corp., 345 Ill.App.3d 645 (1st. Dist.2003), a case of first impression in Illinois, involving calculations of the proper apportionment of pro rata shares of liability under the Joint Tortfeasor Contribution Act when a settling employer’s pro rata share of liability became uncollectible.

Ms. Zahour graduated from Northwestern University in 1985 with a degree in Political Science with Departmental Awards in Law & Politics and Comparative Politics. She obtained her law degree from Marquette University Law School in 1989 and received the American Jurisprudence Awards in Civil Procedure II and Real Estate Development. She is licensed to practice law in Illinois and Wisconsin (inactive) and is admitted as trial counsel to the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.  In addition to her law licenses, Ms. Zahour holds Securities licenses in Series 63 and Series 7, an insurance license and a real estate license.* At her last two Chicago law firms, Ms. Zahour was a partner at Sanchez & Daniels, LLP., and an equity partner at Landau Omahana Tucker Prograr & Siebenhaar, LLC.

Ms. Zahour’s article, “The Verdict Is In: Juries, Misconduct, and Social Media” was published by the State Bar of Arizona in their legal journal, Arizona Attorney, in the December, 2015 issue of that publication. Her article addresses the growing risk of juror misconduct due to juror exposure to extraneous evidence through the internet, social media and texting, identifies various scenarios in which the Arizona court system dealt with this rising danger in order to protect and maintain the integrity of the verdict, and examines the abuse of discretion standard of review for appeals arguing for a new trial based on juror misconduct. The following year in April, 2016 her article entitled, “Social Media Juror Monitoring: Protecting the Integrity of the Verdict in Real Time” was published in The Computer & Internet Lawyer.

Ms. Zahour has extensive experience with the abuse of discretion standard of review and this type of knowledge is critical for attorneys to master in juror misconduct cases.  She is professionally known for her expertise in civil procedure, statutory interpretation, jurisdictional issues, the rules of evidence, and evidence preservation and has mentored several attorneys on how to strategically advance the issue at the trial court level, and if necessary, the appellate court level under the abuse of discretion standard of review.

Her opinion has been frequently sought to evaluate the trial court’s rulings to determine whether enough evidentiary support exists to demonstrate a trial court’s abuse of discretion, while focusing attorneys on the proper methodology to advance the appeal – namely, that the appeal is not structured as a “do-over” with the mistaken hope of obtaining a different result by having the reviewing court substitute its judgment for that of the trial court. Instead, reversible error under the abuse of discretion standard of review must be demonstrated by the trial court acting arbitrarily, ignoring recognized principles of law or failing to employ conscientious judgment. Contrary to the belief of many skilled attorneys, the standard does not even allow the reviewing court to determine whether the trial court “exercised its discretion wisely.”

Surprisingly, many skilled attorneys do not understand the the “abuse of discretion” standard of review and argue that the reviewing court should re-weigh the evidence in favor of their client. This mistaken approach is both costly and legally disastrous. A trial court’s rulings with respect to alleged juror misconduct are reviewed for an abuse of discretion.

Register for our latest CLE on juror misconduct issues involving Facebook entitled: “Facebook & Today’s Juror: 2017’s 10 Biggest Juror Misconduct Events”, which has been accredited and/or approved in multiple jurisdictions for a minimum of 1.5 general CLE credit hours.

Because the ONLY evidence you want the jury to consider … is in the courtroom.

*  These non-legal licenses are currently inactive.