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Reptile or Rules of the Road: Why do Some Cases Go Nuclear?

May 4th, 2021|

Why do some cases go nuclear while other cases with similar fact patterns or injuries do not? Every jury is different of course, but that does not tell us much about the variations in jurors’ psychological reactions to cases. There have been numerous attempts to outline the magic formula for nuclear verdicts from the plaintiff’s perspective. Two of the more prominent theories out there that are routinely embraced by plaintiff attorneys are Reptile and Rules of the Road. Reptileproposes a fear-based approach to the case presentation while Rules of the Road suggests a more principle-based approach. So, which one is

Calming the Excited Mind of Your Client in Deposition

April 28th, 2021|

Surprisingly, the task that is often the most difficult to accomplish with witnesses is getting them to a place where they actually hear the question for what it is and answer only that question. Instead, so many witnesses deliver monologues after questions, going well beyond the scope of the question. These monologues can include an appearance of answering the question, but then go far beyond that by explaining why that answer is correct, playing defense on whatever they think (rightly or wrongly) the examining attorney is trying to accomplish, helping the attorney figure out what they really should be asking,

Implications of Facebook’s Famous Emotional Manipulation Experiment

March 10th, 2021|

In January 2012, Facebook conducted a controversial one-week experiment with approximately 700,000 users in order to determine how the Facebook news feed influenced the emotional state of the users who were unknowingly used as Facebook’s lab rats. An article in The Atlantic described the manipulation this way: “Some people were shown content with a preponderance of happy and positive words; some were shown content analyzed as sadder than average.” The study found that the manipulated news feed content influenced the users’ subsequent posts. More specifically, the study found that an increase in negative news items led to negative posts

Jury Pool Differences with Remote Jury Trials

February 23rd, 2021|

I was speaking with a prominent plaintiff personal injury attorney in Seattle recently about the remote jury trials that are taking place in King County. When I asked him his thoughts, he said they he likes remote jury trials because he feels like he is getting better jury pools. This comment intrigued me, so we looked at our own internal data to see if there are any differences in the make-up of remote trial jury pools compared to in-person trials. Does this shift to technology change the make-up of the jury pool and if so, how? We began by looking

11 Tips for Persuasive Zoom Presentations

February 3rd, 2021|

We are almost one year into the COVID-19 pandemic and Zoom (referring to both the specific platform and generically to all videoconferencing) has become the predominant method of professional communication. Attorneys attend hearings over Zoom, pitch their services to clients, and in some venues, even try cases to juries remotely. In this week’s blog, I want to explore the components of effective presentation over Zoom. Here are eleven tips that I developed with Dr. Mike Anderson, an expert in public speaking, to enhance the quality of your Zoom presentations. 1. Sit closer to the camera. One study examined the relationship

Strategies for Overcoming Anti-Fact and Anti-Expert Bias at Trial

January 26th, 2021|

Lately, we have been doing a lot of reading and writing about emerging “anti-fact” or “anti-expert” views and their impact on trial practice.  As we have discussed in previous blogs, people are much more inclined than in the past to use their own experiences as the only evidence needed for how the world works and the truth or falsity of particular events. A research article in the Journal of Political Psychology took this finding one step further and compared one’s willingness to accept scientific evidence to their political ideology. In a nutshell, conservatives were more likely to hold less favorable

INTERVIEW: A Judge’s Perspective on Remote Jury Trials

January 20th, 2021|

Hits: 6In the fall of 2020, King County Superior Court (Seattle) Judge David Keenan presided over a 15-day Zoom jury trial, making him one of only a small number of judges across the United States to have done so. The length of the trial is particularly notable given that most remote jury trials reported in news have been shorter in length by comparison. Judge Keenan now provides guidance to other judges as they order remote jury trials to help keep the wheels of justice moving during the pandemic. However, many trial attorneys remain anxious and uncertain about remote jury trials,

INTERVIEW: A First-Hand Perspective of Remote Trials

January 13th, 2021|

Remote trials represent a new frontier for most attorneys. As courthouses across the country cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, many are offering the option of a remote trial. One federal judge even ordered a remote jury trial over the objections of the defendant in the case. In this week’s blog, we interview Joe Grube from Breneman Grube Orehoski, PLLC in Seattle, Washington. Joe recently finished up a remote bench trial and shared his experience with us. How would you describe the overall experience of a Zoom trial? Overall, I would say it was good. There are many formalities of a

A Close Look at the Logistics of Online Mock Trials

January 6th, 2021|

In the early months of the pandemic, most of our clients chose to postpone their mock trials and focus groups to later dates when it would be possible to conduct them in person. After all, it was unclear when the courts would open and when trials might resume. Much has changed since then. Several trial venues have adopted hybrid approaches to trial where jury selection is conducted online while the trial is conducted in-person. Some parties have agreed to conduct entire trials online. In December, a federal judge ordered a remote jury trial over the objections of one of the

Will 2021 Bring Mandatory Remote Trials?

December 28th, 2020|

Courts across the country continue to struggle with the logjam that has been created by the pandemic. After months of no trials early in the spring, state courts in Seattle re-opened in August to hybrid civil jury trials where jury selection was conducted over Zoom, followed by an in-person trial. However, trials were shut down again in November when the state’s governor issued new guidelines to deal with the second surge of COVID-19. Zoom jury trials are an option that have been tried by some courts across the country, but in most cases, these have only occurred when all parties