Lawyers usually hate jury selection. Not only does voir dire provide limited time and information to identify jurors who will decide the fate of their clients, but it directly confronts attorneys with a problem they have in communicating complex cases to today’s demanding and skeptical juror: that jurors and attorneys think and communicate in completely different ways.
Don’t wear a pinky ring. Don’t wear monogrammed shirts. Don’t drive your fancy sports car to the courthouse.
These are some of the rules lawyers follow if they don’t want to alienate jurors on Day 1.
Why? Because juries are taking note of everything that happens at trial, not just the evidence.
As jurors demand slicker, speedier, sound bite-like presentation of trial evidence, lawyers are hiring visual artists, computer graphic designers and illustrators to transform piles of documents into light, sound and images.
A recent study by the University of Notre Dame suggests that humans learn and retain information differently if their sense of touch is engaged.
Trial consultant Douglas Keene said this means that the value of touching a piece of evidence cannot be overstated.
Juries routinely dismiss expert testimony due to credibility problems, incomprehensibility, or simply because it is cancelled out by another expert’s testimony.
This leads to a number of important questions for the attorney and the expert in presenting testimony at trial. What exactly is credibility? Is an expert an advocate? How objective is an expert supposed to be?
The past year saw some of the highest Top Ten Jury Verdicts in recent years, exceeding the previous two years. Are jury verdicts trending higher? How is the prolonged economic downturn affecting juror attitudes, and has any of the public frustration displayed in anti-corporate protests like the Occupy Wall St. movement seeped into jury deliberations?
We talked to several experts who spend a lot of time in the courtroom to get their opinions about what juries are responding to. Here are three views of jury trends from a plaintiffs’ personal injury attorney, an employment defense lawyer and a senior jury consultant.
Most lawyers with any natural storytelling ability had it beaten out of them in law school.
But all hope is not lost. In his new book, ‘Twelve Heroes, One Voice,’ trial lawyer Carl Bettinger draws from a variety of stories, from ‘The Odyssey’ to ‘The Matrix’, to show how a jury trial mimics the story arc of every hero-centric tale – with the happy ending being what Bettinger calls a “verdict with a capital V.”
After spending the length of a trial staring at a group of strangers who hold the fate of a client in their hands, the last thing lawyers may want to do is sit down and chat with the jury.
But getting jurors’ take on the trial – from the persuasiveness of a closing argument to the credence of testimony – can be invaluable.
When Casey Anthony was unanimously acquitted earlier this month, a USA Today/Gallup poll showed that nearly two out of three Americans believed she was guilty of murder. How could the court of public opinion differ so drastically from the jury in an Orlando courtroom?