Archive | Litigation Research

Help the Jury Succeed

I subscribe to an email publication called the Jur-E Bulletin; it is published by the National Center for State Courts. It is a very informative publication and I recommend subscribing to it as you never know what tidbits will be there to be learned. Like a few other posts in our blog, this one was […]

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I have been working in the realm of psychology and law for decades and it has always seemed odd to me that many attorneys view jurors as their adversaries. I have heard countless remarks made by attorneys that denigrate the intelligence, motivation, and decisions made by juries. In addition, I have selected juries on hundreds […]

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Return calls, Reply to emails, Be courteous

Many things in the lives of adults are related to the way in which we were brought up as children. If, for example, someone was taught by his/her parents to prefer Fords over Chevys, or to cheer for the Pittsburgh Pirates instead of the Boston Red Sox, these long standing habits are likely to be […]

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Melissa approaches the topic of “Return calls, Reply to emails, Be courteous” as an etiquette issue, and it is. Working for and with trial lawyers is challenging, sometimes. The general public’s impression of attorneys is not always the most favorable, to put it simply. The perceived lack of courtesy may explain part of that. And, […]

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Made for TV Mock Trials

A friend/client sent me an article recently about a mock trial conducted in a high profile murder case in Texas which was featured on the television show 48 Hours. The article, by one of Magnus’ competitors, thoroughly discussed many of the reasons why the mock trial and real trial results were different. As it turned […]

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There are so many things wrong with the way in which these Texas attorneys performed their mock trial that it would take more than this post to comment on them. It is a travesty of justice for clients of attorneys who think they know more than anyone else about almost everything, including jury behavior. I […]

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The “Trial Show”

Two recent cases on which we conducted mock trials prompted this post. In the first, the lawyers presenting the case did so using 8×10 photographs of the incident scene which they held up in front of the group of mock jurors. No enlargement, no projection, just a photo. Post research, I attempted to “encourage” the […]

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Most people learn new information via more than one method, including auditory, visual, and kinetic means. Reliance on only one method of learning may or may not be sufficient, but considerable research has shown learning that involves multiple methods is more likely to result in greater memory for what was learned than learning that takes […]

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The New World Order

Melissa and I have attempted do two things consistently with the posts we write. First, we try to be tactful, and not insult anyone. Second, we strive to be timeless, not dating our posts by the topic. This post breaks the 2nd rule, but hopefully, not the first objective. The topic is what some have […]

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Although many people cannot agree about politics, most people will agree politics have divided us into “us and them” factions more than, perhaps, any time in recent history. All of the people who are “us,” whatever that means on a personal basis, believe all of the people who are “them” are wrong, while all of […]

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Bargaining and negotiation

Bargaining is a social psychological phenomenon that I observe in every mock jury research project I conduct. Rarely do the mock jurors reach unanimity without considerable back and forth discussions. According to social psychological theory, bargaining involves situations with the following characteristics: (1) the parties involved have divergent interests; (2) some form of communication by […]

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Bargaining and negotiation involve give and take. And, some people will do all the taking, and little of the giving. We all observe this in many human interactions. In a jury scenario, this reality takes on a specific life of its own. We see it all the time in mock juries as the mock jurors […]

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Sleeping Beauties

The role of a trial juror is critical in American justice and yet, jurors are often criticized collectively by many trial lawyers and the general public. Being a juror is a difficult job; sitting in judgment of your fellow citizens can be very stressful, and trials are not nearly as exciting and fast paced as […]

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Sadly for most people who are selected to be on a jury, there are few attorneys who possess the oratory skills required to keep them interested in the case, not to mention engaged. I have had the pleasure to observe some skillful trial lawyers in my career as a jury/trial consultant, including Buddy Payne, J. […]

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Commitment

Social psychologists often refer to the “3 Cs of Attitude Change”: conformity, consistency, and commitment. Previous posts have discussed the first two factors, conformity and consistency, and the current post will address the third factor, commitment. Commitment is the process by which people take a stand for or against a certain issue. Commitment to an […]

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Knowledge of the power of commitment is a powerful tool for attorneys. On the one hand, when someone makes a clear commitment to something which obviously is opposed to a lawyer’s position, such as Melissa’s environmental example, the choice is easy. Sometimes, however, a commitment to some belief or cause is more subtly “announced.” Being […]

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Conformity

Almost everyone knows the meaning of conformity. From an early age, we are taught to conform with others’ ways of doing things, to go along with group norms, and to desire to be like everyone else. Few of us actually think about the strong social pressures designed to ensure our conformity; we tend to “go […]

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Melissa states that understanding conformity is part of understanding that a group is stronger than its individual parts. That is, in our litigation consulting world, a jury is stronger than a single juror, even if a single juror can “hang” a jury. My comments conform to her statement, but I want to expand it beyond […]

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Defensive attribution

Defensive attribution has been widely researched by social psychologists since the 1960s. Defensive attribution is the bias, present in most people, that leads to blaming a victim of misfortune for his/her role in the misfortune. Among the first research studies on the topic of defensive attribution was a study that found accident victims were perceived […]

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Though I have taken graduate psychology courses, I have certainly benefited from the litigation specific tutoring and examples Melissa has provided me, and our clients, over many years. I recall one of the first times defensive attribution raised its ugly head and had to be explained to a client on the fly. Our client, a […]

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