Home/ComCon (Kathy Kellerman Communication Consulting)

What do jurors think of attorney voir dire questions? (September, 2011, Issue 1)

September 21st, 2011|

Jurors sometimes withhold information during voir dire. In 1994, a prospective juror refused to answer several items on her juror questionnaire, maintaining that questions about her income, religion, television and reading habits, political affiliations, and health were "very private" and irrelevant. She was cited for contempt, which a federal magistrate judge later overturned (, 891 F. Supp., 552 (E.D. Tex., 1995)). Rose (2001) investigated questions potential jurors are asked in voir dire that they feel are either unnecessary or too private...

Are jurors biased against ethnic minority attorneys? (August, 2011, Issue 4)

August 17th, 2011|

The American Bar Association reports that fewer than 10% of attorneys are minorities, with African Americans at 3.9%, Hispanics at 3.3%, and Asian Americans at less than 1%. The rate of entry into the legal profession for African Americans has slowed, and Asians are now the fastest growing minority entering the legal profession (Chambliss, 2004). Minority attorneys face jurors' biases. Cohen and Peterson...

When does “if only” thinking affect jurors’ verdicts about accidents? (August, 2011, Issue 2)

August 12th, 2011|

Our reactions to events are determined not only by what actually happened, but also by what might have happened. Jurors think about what might have happened using "if only" statements: if only a driver had been going slower, if only a worker had been wearing goggles, if only the warning label had said so, if only a company had investigated the complaint. These "if only" thoughts are called counterfactual thinking. Sometimes it is easy for jurors to engage in counterfactual thinking and imagine events occurring otherwise, and sometimes it is hard to do so. The ease with which jurors can

Are Spanish-speaking witnesses more credible to Spanish-speaking jurors? (August, 2011, Issue 1)

August 8th, 2011|

Jurors prefer that witnesses speak in jurors' predominant language. Witnesses who testify in a foreign language are often perceived to be less credible than witnesses who testify in English. Do jurors who speak the language of a non-English speaking witness also judge that non-English speaking witness to be less credible? Hosch and colleagues (1996) explored jurors' verdicts...

Which better uncovers bias: juror questionnaires or oral voir dire? (July, 2011, Issue 4)

July 31st, 2011|

Parties have a right to the judgment of jurors unclouded by bias, prejudice, or a fixed or preconceived opinion. Juror questionnaires are often opposed because they are argued to cause delay or are deemed unnecessary to identify bias. Flores (2011) compared potential jurors' disclosure of biases in oral voir dire to what they were willing to disclose on written juror questionnaires...

Do minority jurors participate less in jury deliberations than White jurors? (July, 2011, Issue 3)

July 29th, 2011|

Juries are becoming increasingly ethnically diverse in the United States. How much do non-Caucasian jurors participate in deliberations in comparison to White jurors, and does participation depend on how many minorities are on a jury? Cornwell and Hans (2009) studied the participation levels of 2,306 actual criminal jurors who served on 311 juries in Los Angeles, Phoenix, New York and Washington, D.C....

Do male jurors talk more than female jurors in deliberations? (July, 2011, Issue 2)

July 26th, 2011|

In the 1950s, Strodtbeck and colleagues (1956, 1957) conducted realistic mock jury research, using mock jurors chosen from the jury rolls, to determine which jurors talked most during deliberations. Jurors' participation levels varied widely, with jury deliberations typically dominated by only a few jurors. On average, three jurors accounted for more than 80% of the total speaking acts in jury deliberations, and most often these dominant jurors were upper-class men. In 1983, Hastie and colleagues also conducted mock jury research, and reported that male jurors initiated about 40% more comments than female jurors. In 2006, in an important study...

How does litigants’ race influence verdicts in sexual harassment cases? (July, 2011, Issue 1)

July 6th, 2011|

Jurors' verdicts in sexual harassment cases are usually studied absent any consideration of the race of the plaintiff and defendant. Bothwell and colleagues (2006) examined discrimination against Black plaintiffs in sexual harassment cases, to determine whether White jurors are more inclined to attribute what happened to a plaintiff's ignorance or carelessness, rather than to defendant misbehavior. In the research, 186 prospective jurors made individual decisions regarding liability and damages before and after deliberating in 56 juries...

How do interpreters affect the credibility of witnesses? (June, 2011, Issue 4)

June 21st, 2011|

Many trials are conducted with courtroom interpretation of testimony. Berk-Seligson (1987) analyzed 2,470 answers by 27 Spanish-speaking witnesses as interpreted into English by six interpreters to determine if the interpreter's rendition conveyed a different impression of the witness from the one originally conveyed by the witness testifying in Spanish. ...