To promote student research in the area of litigation science, the Research Committee of the American Society of Trial Consultants (ASTC) is sponsoring a Student Poster Competition at the ASTC Annual Conference.
Submit your poster soon! The deadline for submission is April 1st.
Richard Gabriel takes a close look at the new television show 'Bull' and muses about how the show does and does not represent reality as well as how it may effect perceptions of the justice system by potential jurors (who do watch TV).
Rebecca Valez, Tess M.S. Neal, and Margaret Bull Kovera team up to offer a primer on persuasion. What modes of persuasion will work best in the testimony of your expert witness? Then we have trial consultant responses from Jennifer Cox and Stan Brodsky, John Gilleland, and Elaine Lewis and a final reply from the authors.
Andrew Luttrell offers this intriguing strategy (based on his research) to make attitudes stronger and more influential. Trial consultants Sonia Chopra and Charli Morris react to his work with commentary on how they would use this research in day-to-day litigation advocacy.
They are always present and always silent. But what is going on in the minds of those dutiful court reporters as they type everything said in cases ranging from the mundane to the traumatizing? Claire E. Moore, Stanley L. Brodsky, and David Sams talk to court reporters and share their perspectives and coping strategies.
Mykol Hamilton and Kate Zephyrhawke share how to uncover bias in change of venue surveys in criminal cases by using alternate wording for time-honored questions that result in very different answers (and higher bias).
We have been tweaking the website ("we" means Brian Patterson in this instance) to streamline publishing and continue to bring you The Jury Expert. And we are back! Lots of content in this issue as you can see above. Settle in, relax, and sharpen your litigation advocacy skills!
In the spirit of Giving Tuesday, ASTC would like to give something back. We are holding a webinar this Thursday, December 1 that is FREE for all members, past members, and potential members. Join us for “Garbage In, Garbage Out: Recruiting Tips to Ensure High Quality Research”. This webinar is not to be missed! Charli and Adam are the gold standard when it comes to executing a proper recruit. The webinar is using a new, jazzy platform that will enhance your viewing experience. Pre-registration is not required. The webinar will begin promptly at 2:00 pm Eastern so please login early.
On November 16, 2016, attorneys for defendants President-Elect Donald J. Trump and Trump University, LLC filed an ex parte motion to require the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California to provide them with information regarding the jury selection process in the case. The motion suggests that the court may not be compliant with the Jury Selection and Service Act. The motion further indicates that the attorneys want to be sure that the panel is a “fair cross section” of the community. It therefore seeks the following information.
process for summoning prospective jurors;
any lists and identifying information of prospective jurors pre-screened for hardship, excluded for hardship, and prequalified for jury service in this case.
any questionnaire used or questions asked of the prospective jurors;
who conducted the screening and criteria used;
information regarding randomization before and after screening;
any documents used in the screening process;
any transcript from the prequalification process; and
any information provided to jurors regarding the name or nature of the case.
Counsel for the plaintiff’s filed a motion in opposition. They indicate that the motion is untimely and that the defendant failed to demonstrate “a substantial failure to comply” with the Jury Selection and Service Act.
Midland County, TX Improves Juror Response Rates
News West 9 reported on November 16, 2016 that Midland County, TX has dramatically improved juror response rates with the use of new technology. Response rates used to be as low as 17% but are now up to 70%. The county purchased software from Judicial Systems Incorporated, which allows summoned people to complete juror questionnaires and request exemptions online. County Clerk Ross Bush said, "This new system helps alleviate that problem [the low response rate] because it gives you the freedom, choice and ability to make moves on your own." The system cost the county $90,000.
Supreme Court of Georgia Rules on Juror Questions Issue
The Supreme Court of Georgia issued an opinion in Hernandez v. The State on October 17, 2016. The defendant was convicted of murder and a firearm offense following a jury trial. At the beginning of the trial, the court told jurors that they would be permitted to submit questions for witnesses in writing to the court. Using this procedure, the trial court asked more than 70 questions from the jury; the jurors submitted no questions for some witnesses, while the court asked other witnesses more than ten jury questions. Counsel was given an opportunity to review and object to specific questions prior to the court asking them. Although the defendant objected to the content of a few specific questions, he did not object at trial to the procedure which was utilized. On appeal, he claimed that the trial court erred by soliciting the jury for questions to ask the witnesses and by asking the witnesses so many jury questions.
The Supreme Court of Georgia determined that prior caselaw permitted the procedure for juror questions which was used in this case. The Court stated:
Although trial courts must be cautious in soliciting and asking jury questions, particularly in large numbers, we cannot say that the trial court here deviated from the proper procedure or otherwise abused its discretion as to the jury questions that were asked.
A Jur-E bulletin reader who is also a judge in Georgia pointed out to the editor that although not many Georgia trial judges allow for juror questions, some judges were anxiously awaiting this opinion so that they could experiment with the procedure. He indicated his experience was that, “Jurors routinely express appreciation for the ability to ask questions during trial.”
The American Society of Trial Consultants is holding its annual conference May 19-21 in Redondo Beach, CA.
To register for the conference go here. A description of the conference can be found below.
Join us in dynamic Redondo Beach, California, alongside the sun and surf, for a timely discussion about the disappearing civil trial, and its effect on trial by jury and what trial consultants can do to adapt to the new legal landscape. Our 35th Conference is designed to address the decline of the civil trial in two ways:
First, we will explore the causes of the disappearing civil trial and analyze potential solutions. This discussion will be conducted by the leading authority on this matter, Mr. Steven Susman. Mr. Susman, a nationally known civil litigator, has founded and funded the emerging Civil Jury Project at New York University School of Law. Come and hear from this successful, veteran lawyer on how to adapt your practice to the 21stcentury legal landscape
Second, we will offer sessions about trial consultants can do to increase business when fewer and fewer cases are going to juries. This unique conference offers:
A panel of veteran trial consultants including Pete Rowland, Richard Gabriel, Tara Trask, and Robert Gershen will discuss how they have changed their practice in light of fewer civil jury trials.
Attorney Bruce Stern, Treasurer of the American Association of Justice and Woodward/White’s Best Lawyers in America (2003-2015) discusses What an Attorney Wants from a Trial Consultant…When the Attorney is not going to Trial.
Chris Ritter and Michelle Diago from The Focal Point discuss the use of graphics in trial, mediation and other trial consulting services.
Arianne Fushsberger provides insights on the use of Social Media Research on the Venire and Beyond, including social media research for non-trial settings.
Jonathan Corbin provides a research-based method for attorneys to ask for damages.
And, with a bit of glamour characteristic of Hollywood, Richard Walter, the Screenwriting Chairman & Associate Dean of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, provides A Screenwriter’s Tips for Writing Openings and Closings.
This is a conference designed for both veteran and novice trial consultants. Veteran trial consultants have the opportunity to give back to the profession by offering a Masters Panel that is open to all attendees. Veterans can rejuvenate, network and share in a Masters Only Jam Sessions. Novice and intermediate trial consultants can attend the Masters’ Panel Session to learn the tricks of the trade. Trial Consulting 101 has been revamped with an emphasis upon the ASTC Professional Code. This isn’t your father’s Trial Consulting 101 and it is ideal for anyone wanting to learn how to provide trial consulting services the ASTC way.