ComCon (Kathy Kellerman Communication Consulting)

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How does instruction in attorney cross-examination questioning techniques affect a witness’s answers? (March, 2011, Issue 1)

March 1st, 2011|

Witnesses are confronted frequently in cross-examination with complex and leading questions that contain multiple parts, negatives, double-negatives, advanced vocabulary and legal terminology. Witnesses have difficulty deciphering and answering such questions accurately. Ellison and colleagues (2010) investigated whether instructing witnesses about attorneys' cross-examination questioning techniques could improve the accuracy of answers witnesses provide. Numerous adult witnesses watched ...

How do jurors’ litigation crisis beliefs affect punitive damage awards? (February, 2011, Issue 4)

February 22nd, 2011|

Jurors differ in whether they believe damage awards are excessive, a litigation crisis exists, and tort reform is necessary. Such litigation crisis beliefs often influence both liability verdicts and punitive damage awards, though not always...

Do jurors believe confessions can be false? (February, 2011, Issue 3)

February 14th, 2011|

A defense claim that a confession is false is difficult for jurors to understand and accept. Costanzo and colleagues (2010) surveyed 461 surrogate jurors from 7 different cities in the U.S. about false confessions, the ability to discern true from false confessions, permissible interrogation tactics, likely rates of false confessions for different crimes, and expert testimony on police interrogations....

Do jurors discuss attorneys’ fees when awarding damages? (February, 2011, Issue 2)

February 7th, 2011|

Civil trials usually prohibit discussion of, and so are silent about, payment of attorneys' fees by litigants. Silence about attorneys' fees is not equivalent to jurors being unaware of them...

How do apologies affect settlement demands? (February, 2011, Issue 1)

January 31st, 2011|

Lawyers frequently advise defendants against apologizing, because apologies can be interpreted as admissions of guilt, which could be leveraged into defendants paying more money in settlement and/or at trial. Robbennolt (2010) conducted research comparing plaintiffs' responses to apologies with attorneys' responses...

How are jurors’ religious beliefs related to death penalty verdicts? (January, 2011, Issue 4)

January 24th, 2011|

Jurors who favor the death penalty have different religious beliefs than those opposed to the death penalty. Miller and Hayward (2007) studied which juror religious beliefs are related to death penalty sentencing recommendations by having nearly 1,000 death-qualified mock jurors make sentencing decisions to a lengthy summary of an actual capital murder trial...

Are defendants who lose civil jury trials at a disadvantage on appeal? (January, 2011, Issue 3)

January 18th, 2011|

An oft-stated opinion is that civil jury verdicts are largely immune to appellate revision. Eisenberg and Clermont (1999) studied whether civil jury trial verdicts are revised less often on appeal than bench trial verdicts. All federal civil trial appeals between ...

How well do juror demographics predict punitive damage awards in high-stakes civil cases? (January, 2011, Issue 2)

January 10th, 2011|

Vinson and colleagues (2008) investigated how well juror demographics could predict punitive damage awards in three (real) high-stakes civil cases: a smoker's personal injury claim against a tobacco company; a class action lawsuit about a weight loss drug against a pharmaceutical company; a real estate developer's claim to rebuild a building destroyed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks against an insurance company...

How does cross-examination question phrasing affect witness accuracy? (January, 2011, Issue 1)

January 4th, 2011|

Attorneys frequently ask witnesses leading and complex questions in cross examination that contain multiple parts, negatives, double-negatives, advanced vocabulary and legal terminology. Many of these questions demand a yes or no response. Ellison and colleagues (2010) explored the extent to which witnesses can answer leading and complex questions accurately...

When is playing the race card an effective strategy? (December, 2010, Issue 4)

December 27th, 2010|

In criminal cases, the defense sometimes argues that the defendant was arrested and tried because of his or her race. This race card strategy seeks to make race salient in order to sway attitudes and beliefs of jurors or judges so as to find the defendant not guilty. Hart and colleagues (2007) investigated the effectiveness of the race card strategy in jury trials...