by Douglas L. Keene, PhD and Rita R. Handrich, PhD of Keene Trial Consulting
Why on earth would anyone, anywhere, ever confess to a serious crime they did not commit? Especially something like murder? Seriously? Our mock jurors find it hard to believe and, in truth, it ticks them off. Two trial consultants present the research on why people falsely confess and the cascade of errors presented by a false confession. Saul Kassin, Walter Katz, Karen Franklin and Larry Barksdale respond to this important paper.
Given the skepticism as to why anyone would confess to serious crimes when they were innocent--it is important to know how to identify biases prior to seating jurors. Here's a supplemental jury questionnaire (SJQ) covering all the issues you need to address in a false confessions case.
by Rita R. Handrich, PhD of Keene Trial Consulting
Here's a quick and thorough way to review the research on false confessions and learn a few things you didn't know before. Multiple areas are covered and you are sure to be surprised by some of the content!
by Steven E. Perkel, DSW, LCSW, of Archer Law and Paul J. Tobin, MSW and James Weisman, JD of the United Spinal Organization
This article is eye-opening. It recounts truthy biases about people with disabilities based on the pseudoscience of eugenics and how these biases were supported by laws and court rulings resulting in thousands of people undergoing involuntary sterilization. The article also describes how decisions continue to be made that put people with disabilities at risk.
by Jamie Luguri, Jaime Napier, PhD and John Dovidio, PhD all of Yale University
How does a conservative juror view a "non-normative" group member differently than a more liberal juror and what, if anything, can you do to change that view? New research out of Yale University tells us there may well be ways to modify pre-existing perspectives and James McGee and Charli Morris offer their thoughts as well.
by Jaime Bochantin, PhD of Tara Trask & Associates
A horse walks into a bar and the bartender says "Why the long face?". Okay. So we all find different things funny. This article looks at how humor helps and hinders the deliberative process (using examples from mock trial research) and gives pointers on how you can both assess and use juror humor style in voir dire decisions.
by Judith Platania, PhD of Roger Williams University and Jessica Crawford of the Milford, Massachusetts Police Department
How do the general bits and pieces of information about lawsuit damages jurors pick up from the media enter into the deliberation room? Jurors don't "set aside" that knowledge simply because they are told to do so--but you knew that. Take a look at how that pre-existing knowledge is related to verdict and damages.
by Caroline Titcombe and Stanley L. Brodsky from the University of Alabama You've likely read about thin slicing and how we make judgments that often turn out to be disturbingly accurate. Here's a look at thin-slicing applied to witness impressions. When we judge witnesses--are our impressions accurate? You might be surprised at the answer.
The iPad has changed how we work and surf the web. Here, in a very hands-on article, Morgan Smith tells you how to use the iPad to display trial exhibits. Do you really need to lug that laptop around anymore?
Ever have a witness you think the jury is going to hate? Maybe because you don't like them so much yourself? Enter Katherine James. How do you help the witness and help your own attitude toward them? Read and learn.
by Douglas L. Keene and Rita R. Handrich from Keene Trial Consulting
Hydraulic fracking (aka hydro-fracking) is a technique for removing natural gas from deep underground geological formations that would otherwise not be sufficiently productive to be economical. The debate over safety and health impacts is heated. What can we really know about how potential jurors react to the practice, especially in a downturned economy? Here's a look at national and regional attitudes courtesy of polls, surveys and some actual research articles. See how to sample public attitudes for any toxic tort case in preparation for pretrial research.
Finally! It's fall and the mercury is falling. This issue is full of articles you can use on witnesses, technology, and new areas like neuro-law and attitudes toward the controversial practice of hydro-fracking. Read us online or via our newly redesigned pdf. The Jury Expert. We go where you go.
Here is the latest edition of the Jury Expert which is published by the American Society of Trial Consultants (ASTC). Also, ASTC is having its annual conference next week in New Orleans. For those interested in more information about the conference go here.
by Karenna Malavanti, Megan Johnson, Wade Rowatt and Charles Weaver, all from Baylor University.
How well are we managing bias in the courtroom? Four Baylor researchers present research on how subtle religious cues result in more bias against African Americans. (It's actually worse than just African Americans but that's research pending publication so we just get a peek at that.) Karen Hurwitz and George Kich respond with their reactions to the research findings. This is a really disturbing piece of research about which you need to be informed.
by Doug Keene and Rita Handrich from Keene Trial Consulting
A look at how to craft trial narratives for both prosecution and defense presentation by reviewing the social sciences research that may be relevant to the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case. What do we know in terms of the facts released? What does the research have to say? And how can you take that research and combine it with known facts to craft a plaintiff or defense narrative to test in pretrial research? A disturbing but intriguing article on a case in the headlines.
We are all inundated with social media information. But how do you organize all that information to use it for trial preparation? Amy Singer brings us that knowledge by offering education and information on how-to's for everyone. This is a step-by-step description of the process first used for the Casey Anthony trial.
Crazy, out-of-control witnesses? Who better than a 60-year-old, small-statured woman to handle them? That's how Katherine James describes herself in this article but as you read it, you will doubt anyone working with Katherine sees her as small and frail. This is brash and plain-spoken advice earned through much (perhaps a bit too much) experience over the years with this challenging group.
How do you best prepare expert witnesses? A close observer of expert witness courtroom performance offers his top tips and Stan Brodsky, Elaine Lewis and Ellen Finlay respond and tell us what they might do the same or differently.
by Ryan Malphurs and Hailey Drescher from Tara Trask & Associates
Ryan Malphurs and Hailey Drescher have been watching the Supreme Court again and this time they are showing us how the Supreme Justices use analogies (to lesser and greater effect) and how we can apply those lessons in analogy to non-Supreme Court presentations.
A book review of the latest (encyclopedic) reference on the intersection of the law and mind sciences. Edited by Jon Hanson with 800 pages full of research and application that will leave you breathless and, more importantly, curious.
The past two months have been an interesting time for us. We are pulling articles from the headlines for this issue and taking on provocative and disturbing topics. Go ahead and "click". You know you want to. We want you to as well.
Do you know what the nastiest, germiest thing in your hotel room is? Think again. And learn how to avoid taking bedbugs around the country with you! These two tips and much more more in this growing category.
by Beth Bochnak of NJP Litigation Counseling (formerly the National Jury Project)
In our last issue we focused on 'sensitive topics' and approaching them successfully. Here's another one: an SJQ (and the rationale for various questions) for defending those accused of sex crimes against children.
A review of Daniel Kahneman's (500 page!) tome Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow. What can we learn from this book to inform litigation advocacy. Steve says "a lot" but we have to give it time to percolate.
You probably saw the "Why does everyone hate jury duty?" 'surveys' floating around the web. A trial consultant takes a look at the original article questioning our system and ponders how cynicism plays a role in the responses.
Usually we keep this stuff from you. This issue though, a behind-the-scenes look at what members of the ASTC (American Society of Trial Consultants) are really like. Famous old saying: "Character will out."
by Rimma Teper, Michael Inzlicht, Elizabeth Page-Gould
Emotions are important in decision-making and the intensity of the felt emotion plays an important role in sorting out ethical dilemmas found in your case narrative. With responses from trial consultants.
So you're hitting the road again? This is a new feature that we will constantly add to as new 'tips' come in. So send us yours via the Comments feature. Tips from ASTCs frequent travelers to make your travels more pleasant.
The latest edition of the Jury Expert is now available.
The Nerd Defense: You likely heard about this one since it was all over the web last month. Essentially, it was presented as though putting a pair of eyeglasses on your criminal defendant would result in acquittal for violent crimes. We wondered about that and so went to the researcher who was quite happy to tell us what he really found. His results were a bit misinterpreted! See what Michael Brown really found in this issue and then take a look at what three trial consultants and one criminal defense lawyer have to say as well. You'll also hear about some preliminary results of research on what happens when corporate defendants put on eyeglasses.
Between Coddling and Contempt: Managing and Mentoring Millennials by Douglas L. Keene, Rita R. Handrich Controversy in the online legal community over the work ethic of Millennial generation attorneys has been ongoing for the past few years. Are they lazy, entitled, only interested in tweeting and demanding praise (and high compensation) for mediocre work? In a follow-up to the review of the research on Millennials (in July's Jury Expert), two experienced trial consultants examine what we can really know about the work ethic of Millennials and identify management and mentoring strategies for law firms as well as workplace-entry tactics for the Millennial attorney.
Out of the Shadows, Into the Jury Box by Alexandra Rudolph, Tara Trask What is a shadow jury? Why should you consider using one? How is a shadow jury recruited, facilitated and used during the course of a trial? Two experienced trial consultants answer these questions and more.
Case Strategy for the Civil Defendant: The Effects of Injury Severity and Rebuttals on Liability and Damages by Matt Groebe Original research examining the attention paid to liability and damages evidence in a unitary trial. Should the defense attorney counter the plaintiff's damages recommendation or refuse to offer a rebuttal by claiming the defendant is not liable? Recommendations are made on strategies for a mildly injured plaintiff versus a severely injured plaintiff.
"I Hate That #@*%!": Overcoming the He-Said She-Said Battle in Family Law Cases by Andrea Blount, Paula Pratt Preparing witnesses to enhance clear communication is important in any case, but family law matters have some additional unique challenges: (1) managing the emotional drama, (2) enhancing credibility in a he-said she-said environment and (3) cutting through the noise and telling the story. An experienced trial consultant and a family law attorney offer strategies.
Working for Justice in Neshoba County, Mississippi by Beth Foley, Andy Sheldon, Beth Bonora ASTC's current President, Beth Foley, interviews two past Presidents (Andy Sheldon and Beth Bonora) about their work in the Neshoba County, Mississippi re-trial of the 40 year old civil rights murders which resulted in the successful conviction of Edgar Ray Killen. The occasion is the release of the documentary film -- Neshoba: The Price of Freedom -- and the pride we at ASTC have in our affiliation with these two ASTC-member consultants.