ComCon (Kathy Kellerman Communication Consulting)

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When do jurors first form their verdict preferences? (June, 2011, Issue 3)

June 14th, 2011|

The study of jurors' opinion formation and change over the course of trials rarely relies on data from real jurors, and instead is usually based on studies of mock jurors or student jurors. Two studies have explored the verdict preferences of actual jurors who served in many different civil and criminal cases about when they began leaning toward one side or the other, and when they made up their minds about who should prevail...

What speech style is most effective for witnesses? (June, 2011, Issue 2)

June 7th, 2011|

Witnesses differ in how powerless or powerful their speech style is, and their speech style affects their credibility. O'Barr (1982) investigated the courtroom speech style of witnesses, and identified two speech styles: powerless speech (i.e., low social power) and powerful speech. Powerless speech includes:...

Which dissenting jurors hang juries and which conform to majority opinion? (June, 2011, Issue 1)

June 1st, 2011|

The position of the juror who is a dissenter in deliberations is glorified in the movie Twelve Angry Men. But which jurors dissent, which hang the jury, and which simply acquiesce to the majority's wishes? Waters and Hans (2008) investigated jurors who dissent from the majority on juries, and distinguished dissenters who hang the jury from dissenters who acquiesce to the majority opinion to allow a jury decision against the dissenter's individual wishes...

Do jurors treat alcohol abuse and child abuse as mitigators in capital cases? (April, 2011, Issue 4)

April 26th, 2011|

In the sentencing phase of capital cases, jurors frequently hear about a defendant's history of child abuse and alcohol abuse. The defense offers this evidence in mitigation. Stevenson and colleagues (2010) investigated whether jurors used a defendant's child abuse and alcohol abuse as mitigating factors, aggravating factors, or ignored the evidence. Over 370 death-qualified jurors...

How do jurors respond to cultural explanations of conduct in sexual harassment cases? (April, 2011, Issue 3)

April 19th, 2011|

Cultures differ in norms of sexual conduct for men and women, and in what is perceived as sexual harassment. Schwartz and Hunt (2011) investigated how jurors respond to arguments about cultural differences using a hostile work environment sexual harassment case involving a Latina plaintiff....

How do jurors handle conflicting expert testimony? (April, 2011, Issue 2)

April 12th, 2011|

Jurors with no specific expert knowledge routinely need to evaluate complex and conflicting expert testimony. Vidmar (1995) conducted extensive post-trial interviews of jurors in five different medical malpractice cases to determine how jurors handled a "battle of experts"...

Do jurors discuss insurance in deliberations when awarding damages? (April, 2011, Issue 1)

April 5th, 2011|

The insurance exclusionary rule in civil trials prohibits disclosure to jurors about whether a party is insured to prevent, among other things, jurors adjusting damages awards because a party is insured. Does silence about insurance during trial imply that jurors do not discuss the matter spontaneously during deliberations? Jurors are aware of insurance, and often raise the issue spontaneously. For example, Diamond and colleagues (1989)...

Can jurors follow instructions limiting use of a defendant’s prior conviction? (March, 2011, Issue 4)

March 22nd, 2011|

Jurors often receive instructions limiting the use of particular evidence offered at trial. Wissler and Saks (1985) investigated whether jurors are able to follow limiting instructions about a defendant's prior conviction. One group of jurors heard...

What criteria do jurors use to judge the credibility of expert testimony? (March, 2011, Issue 3)

March 15th, 2011|

Experts are important witnesses in a high percentage of civil and criminal trials. Jurors use multiple criteria to judge the credibility of expert testimony...

Are juror questions for witnesses helpful or disruptive? (March, 2011, Issue 2)

March 8th, 2011|

Increasingly, courts are allowing jurors to submit questions for witnesses during trial. Hannaford-Agor and Connelly (2006) of the National Center for State Courts report that a national survey of 8,066 trials found that jurors were permitted to submit questions for witnesses in 14% of criminal trials and 18% of civil trials. Heuer and Penrod (1994) conducted a national field experiment to explore the effects of juror submitted questions for witnesses...