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Research Shows COVID-Related Opinion Shifts in Nationwide Jury Pools

July 1st, 2020|

By Jill D. Schmid For the past couple of years, we’ve been conducting national surveys on a variety of subjects in order to find out what kinds of widely held beliefs jurors bring into the courtroom. This data has helped inform many litigation strategies, witness preparation efforts, and jury de-selection strategies. Recently, we put all the questions together, added COVID specific questions, and conducted our largest nationwide survey yet.  All of the data was collected in May 2020. The data not only tells us about how the jury pool will likely be different in the foreseeable future due to the

Understanding Heightened Juror Emotions During the Pandemic

June 16th, 2020|

By Scott Herndon, M.A. Traumatic national events, like the COVID-19 pandemic elicit a broad range of emotions in potential jurors. Jurors, like all of us, worry about the safety of our family and loved ones, keeping jobs, the state of the economy, or the stress of taking on new family and educational responsibilities. Recently, we have conducted some national survey research and the data demonstrates that the pandemic has heightened many latent juror attitudes about the government, corporations, and many other institutions and business. These stressors and biases combine to create a mix of emotions that potential jurors bring

Defund the Police: How Flawed Framing Undermines the Persuasive Effect

June 10th, 2020|

By Jill D. Schmid, Ph.D. I, like most of you, have probably been having some difficult conversations lately. The most difficult, though, are not just steeped in real ideological differences, but in the ways in which the issues are being framed. For years, there have been a debates and differences of opinion about what “Black Lives Matter” and the “Take a Knee” movement truly mean. The framing of those phrases and movements likely moves someone in one particular direction over another. This past week, another phrase has come about that is doing the same thing: “defund the police.” I want

Success! One of the First In-Person Mock Trials in the Age of COVID

June 1st, 2020|

Mock jurors sit at least six feet apart with masks and other health and safety measures in place. By Jill D. Schmid, Ph.D. It was awesome to get back to conducting in-person mock trial research this past weekend!  While things looked a bit different, it still checked off all the boxes for a successful project and, as always, we gained some incredibly important insights that will help us prepare for trial. Part of the reason this project was so important is because so many attorneys are wondering if mock trial research is even possible in the coming months. The answer

What’s Your Superpower? Barriers for Attorney Presentation in Zoom Depositions

May 27th, 2020|

By Jill D. Schmid, Ph.D. For years, I’ve successfully avoided Facetime calls and most video conferences. However, around  9 weeks, 2 days, 13 hours, and 42 minutes ago, that all changed. Not only did all of my work transition to video conferences, but so did my communication with my family and friends. Houseparty and Zoom are my new normal and I have to say, it’s not all bad! Yes, there are all the headaches we’ve known about for years: everyone talking over each other, followed by silence as everyone stops to let others continue; the frozen feed followed by everyone

WARNING: Be Wary of Research About How the Pandemic Impacts Jury Decision-Making

May 20th, 2020|

By Thomas M. O’Toole, Ph.D. It is the question on every litigator’s mind: What impact, if any, will the pandemic have on jury decision-making once trials resume? Will there be more goodwill towards businesses because of the economic toll the pandemic has taken? Will perceptions of a widening rich/poor gap perpetuate social inflation and nuclear verdicts? The questions go on and on and it is important to have answers to them. I expect that many organizations will purport to have those answers, but those answers might be misleading or flat-out wrong for one very important reason. While everyone wants to

The Important Connection between September 11, COVID-19, and Jury Decision-Making

May 14th, 2020|

By Thomas M. O’Toole, Ph.D. As the country starts to re-open and jury trials resume, it is our job to research and understand what impact the pandemic and the stay-at-home orders that lasted over two months in some states will have on how jurors evaluate liability and damages going forward. There are many ways to approach this kind of research. For example, we just completed on of the largest surveys we have ever conducted in order to get specific answers to some of the questions we know attorneys and general counsel will have. We are currently in the process of

How Does The COVID Pandemic Impact Mock Trials and Focus Groups?

May 7th, 2020|

By Thomas M. O’Toole, Ph.D. We have officially entered the eighth week of the stay-at-home order in Washington State. Six days ago, our governor announced there would be no jury trials in the state until at least July. During this time, we have had at least a dozen cases across the country that were supposed to go to trial, but now await an uncertain future. In the next few months, we have another dozen cases that are supposed to go to trial, but those are uncertain, too, as courts will surely be dealing with enormous scheduling challenges. Fortunately, we have

The Implications of Jurors’ Memories v. Experiences at Trial

April 16th, 2020|

*Previously published our Jury Economics column in the December 2019 issue of the King County Bar Bulletin. By Thomas M. O’Toole, Ph.D. and Kevin R. Boully, Ph.D. Do you pursue happiness in each moment or live a life to be proud of when you someday look back on it?  What does your preference say about how you make decisions? Nobel Prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman has repeatedly discussed an important discovery of human decision-making he describes as the realization of the two selves that exist in each of us. His point tackles the fundamental reality of how we experience and

Do Jurors Have Clear Vision at Trial? A Day in the Life

April 8th, 2020|

*Previously published our Jury Economics column in the January 2020 issue of the King County Bar Bulletin. By Thomas M. O’Toole, Ph.D. and Kevin Boully, Ph.D. Then-Stanford Psychology graduate student Elizabeth Newton conducted a fascinating experiment over a decade ago when she divided participants into groups she dubbed “tappers” and “listeners.” The tappers were asked to select from a list of well-known Americana songs and then tap the tune for the listener assigned to sit across from them. The tappers could not say or hum anything. All they could do was tap their finger. The listener’s job was to guess