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Confidence in the Courtroom

January 20th, 2018|

It’s not about what you say, but how you say it. Confidence is king. Fake it ‘til you make it. Across all arenas, confidence leads to more opportunities and credibility amongst peers. The courtroom is no exception, and confidence impacts jurors, witnesses, and attorneys within this context. Researchers have long been interested in leadership characteristics within jury deliberations. One fascinating study looked at which jurors were most likely to change their minds during deliberations. One would expect (or at least hope) to find that those with the most accurate memory would be least likely to change their minds, but that

The Drama of Persuasion: Story-Telling and Narrative Framing

January 6th, 2018|

One of the most interesting components of facilitating a mock trial is seeing how jurors actually reason during deliberations. Most jurors have no training in formal logic or argumentation or in the fields in which the trial evidence is being presented (law, medicine, intellectual property, workplace safety, etc.), so they are unfamiliar with the criteria that would be used by experts in these fields. The specific jury instructions have yet to be provided, and even if they had, jurors often have a hard time following the rules as given. This is not a totally unique situation for most people, as

Jury Selection: Logistics

December 9th, 2017|

So often we write about the social science and theory behind sound jury selection. But there is one element – not sufficient alone, yet necessary to a successful jury selection – that goes unnoted. It is jury selection logistics, the coordination of processes, people, information collection, and facilitation of appropriate decision-making. To oversimplify, jury selection is a critical process whereby a trial advocate and her team are identifying jurors’ experiences and attitudes in order to determine if they have a, or a series of, pre-dispositions that increase the chances that they will be resistant to the case story, themes, evidence, or witnesses. In the

Preparing International Witnesses for Trial

November 25th, 2017|

Under the best of conditions, preparing a non-expert witness to testify at trial is a critical component of an attorney’s preparation efforts. It is a challenging situation for someone with little or no experience in the legal system to take the stand in a courtroom and answer questions from an attorney who is far more experienced in this situation. There are a number of strategies that can be used to get a typical witness ready for trial. But witnesses who are from another country and do not speak English as their first language present a unique set of challenges when

Not Even the Best Presenters Should Wing It: Tips for Getting Prepared for Your Next Speech

November 11th, 2017|

As a Trial Consultant working with lawyers and people in the litigation field across the country, I’ve noticed over the years that one of the “elephants in the room” is that when it comes to speech making, we could stand to practice more. Speaking, like writing, is a skill improved by performance and feedback. So why do so many experienced trial lawyers, time after time, show up to deliver an opening statement that sounds like it was put together the night before? Sure, some of them, maybe many of them, were actually put together the night before but, why? We

Taylor Swift Models the Art of Powerful Testimony

October 28th, 2017|

  Taylor Swift did not mince words when she testified in August against DJ David Mueller for allegedly groping her during a photo shoot. During her testimony, she took every opportunity to say Mr. Mueller “grabbed my ass,” artfully incorporating this phrase regardless of the question from opposing counsel. This was her “safe harbor,” the place she could go when the questions were difficult. When opposing counsel attempted to challenge her testimony and her memory of the events from that night, she unequivocally stated her truth. This is what jurors surely remembered – she was unwavering on the stand, and

Public Debate about the Trump Investigation, Juror Deliberation, and Closing Arguments

September 9th, 2017|

This is peril. Not the kind of “mortal peril” the young Weasley children faced from time to time, but the kind of client relations peril that comes with wading, even ever so slightly, into one of the most polarizing issues, at one of the most polarizing political periods in our society. So, I plan to be delicate, avoiding opinion about the process or outcome of the investigations of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence. What I want to do is focus on the nature of “evidence” and “proof,” pointing out the use and misuse of the concepts

Improving Litigation Team Decision Making

August 19th, 2017|

“I pissed off one of my team members,” our client said (we’ll call her Claire). She and I were working on a case that was sizeable and required a substantial team. She pulled me aside for advice and to blow off some steam. “They just don’t understand the big picture here,” Claire yelled in a whisper. I asked quietly, “What happened?” Claire replied, “Anna thought I was moving forward with her idea—I’m not. She thinks I don’t value her ideas now. This isn’t true—I think she’s very bright. I just went a different direction.” I told her, “Give me five

Making Your Expert More Memorable and Understandable Through Visuals

August 5th, 2017|

I remember when I made the transition from student to teacher how excited I was to have the opportunity to instruct students the way I thought they really wanted to be taught – by presenting interesting lectures from which they could learn. How did I know that students wanted to learn that way? Because that is how I liked to learn, and I figured everyone else was the same. After my first quarter, I mentioned to my wife-to-be the struggles I was having connecting with students. I told her my theory about how (I thought) students wanted to learn. Since

Foreign Policy and Jury Selection Strategy: Assessments of Juror Opinion Leadership

July 8th, 2017|

There is an ongoing debate about the priorities in current foreign policy between “Hard Power” leadership and “Soft Power” leadership. In simple terms, hard power leadership refers to things like military power and forward military projection to deter aggression, enhance readiness, etc. When one thinks of this, the lines are drawn most clearly back to the Pentagon. Soft power leadership refers to diplomacy, economic aid, and a line drawn more directly between other countries and the State Department. Both are a means of exerting influence on others in the global sphere. We think about these concepts every time we do