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Preparing for a Remote Deposition

May 7th, 2020|

By now you have heard of, or even participated in, a deposition taking place remotely via a webcam-based platform. In cases where depositions could not wait, the legal community was forced to adapt to the changing rules limiting in-person meetings. While it seems like restrictions may ease by summer (at least enough to accommodate 6-8 people in a large conference room), the virtual medium may remain an appealing option for some, especially those where geographical distance between attorneys and the deponent is a factor. Remote depositions may be a new form of our work, but the rules for preparation are

Jury Research Amid COVID-19

April 23rd, 2020|

In early March, most of the business world was faced with the question, “How are we going to continue business as usual?” Today, the question seems to be, “Are we going to return to business as usual?” As of now, the answer to that question changes day to day. Although many trials have been put on standby, attorneys continue preparing for and attending mediations and settlement discussions. That means there are some research questions that cannot wait. As we watch to see how and when we return to normal, Tsongas has been actively working on adapting our small group jury

One Person’s Inference is Another Person’s Conjecture

April 1st, 2020|

Steven Wright observed that “there is a fine line between fishing and standing on the shore like an idiot.” And as David St. Hubbins (lead singer of Spinal Tap, the band chronicled in Rob Reiner’s Rockumentary This is Spinal Tap) notes, “It’s such a fine line between stupid, and…uh…clever.” Well, there is also a fine line, based on my observations of jury deliberations, between reasonable inferences and conjecture/speculation. Jurors struggle mightily with these issues and seldom know where that fine line is or where it should be drawn. As a former professor of communication specializing in persuasion and argument, observing

Trial Preparation in the Time of Covid-19: A Practical Approach

March 21st, 2020|

The rapid emergence of COVID-19 has imposed stark exigencies on litigation and trial practice. Many law firm offices have been emptied as staff and employees have been quickly adapting to remote work environments. Many courts have closed down, halting civil jury trials, trail to be rescheduled for still to be decided dates. Here is a useful resource to track and assess the widespread business interruption caused by the Court’s directives to socially distance. Most professionals are looking for a sense of normalcy in an abnormal time. How to remain productive and serve the needs of the client through useful and

Judge/Jury Agreement Remains High

December 28th, 2019|

In June, the National Judicial College published results to the question posed to retired trial judges, “About how often do you disagree with the jury’s verdict?” Results showed that 82% of the 446 judges who responded indicated they disagreed with the jury’s verdict less than 25% of the time. At a recent CLE I attended hosted by the Young Lawyer Division of the King County Bar, I had the opportunity to ask retired King County Superior Court Judge Richard F. McDermott this question. His response? He said that in his 18 years as a judge, he disagreed with the jury

TOOLS TO MAINTAINING WITNESS CREDIBILITY

October 26th, 2019|

Many trials are decided based on which version of the truth a jury accepts from competing witnesses. An obvious strategy that is taught to witnesses (or really any other speaker) is that they need to build and maintain credibility. A jury must trust and believe what a witness has to say if they are going to accept the version of the facts that the witness is providing. In the drive to improve credibility, witnesses are taught many strategies, both verbal and non-verbal, for gaining the trust of a jury. Witnesses should spend significant time practicing these strategies because they are

Jury Selection in the #MeToo Era

September 7th, 2019|

“Franken’s fall was stunningly swift … reflect[ing] the cultural moment: In an era when women’s accusations of sexual discrimination and harassment are finally being taken seriously, after years of belittlement and dismissal, some see it as offensive to subject accusers to scrutiny. “Believe Women” has become a credo of the #MeToo movement.” Jane May, The Case of Al Franken, The New Yorker, July 22, 2019 Since the wave of headlines about allegations of sexual assault against Hollywood moguls, more and more women have come forward with their own accounts of sexual mistreatment in the workplace and beyond. #MeToo went viral

WHAT YOUR JURY REALLY KNOWS ABOUT SCIENCE

July 13th, 2019|

The degree to which a juror understands science can have a significant impact on the way they perceive the narrative, themes, arguments, and supporting evidence presented at trial. Audience analysis is the first step to persuasion, so what do we know about our audience? Scientific knowledge is correlated with education First, it’s important to note that your likely hunch is correct. Scientific knowledge is correlated with level of educational attainment. A Pew research survey conducted on July 21, 2018 showed that Postgraduates posted the most knowledge about science followed by college graduates, then those with some college, then High School

Maximus Your Witnesses

March 30th, 2019|

The first minutes of Ridley Scott’s 2000 epic Gladiator was an outstanding example of character development. You knew who Russell Crowe’s Maximus was from the start, and it would set up the struggle between right and wrong as seen through the lens of a man of justice and determination. In those first moments, Maximus does several key things to highlight who he is and what he stands for. • Reflects on the upcoming battle (alone and quiet) • Appreciates the simple things in life (a bird in the field before him) • Expresses empathy and understanding for foes unwilling to

Jury Consultant Advice: The Top 5 From The Advantage

February 22nd, 2019|

Thank you to our long time readers of The Advantage Blog and welcome to our new readers. It’s always gratifying when we hear that a piece of advice we offer has stuck in the memory and practice of one of our clients. In this edition of The Advantage, I thought it would be useful to look back at our most popular posts and highlight the advice you’ve told us is worth an encore. The Advantage went digital in 2011after its previous 10 years in paper form. I’m listing the top five articles of all time based on readership. I did