Source of article The Jury Room - Keene Trial Consulting.
I grew up in a wilderness area in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in a town proudly proclaiming almost 300 citizens on its road sign. Life there focused on survival, and was fairly insular since we were so remote. I knew there was a big world beyond my peninsula and was very curious about what else was out there. I left Michigan at 18 and headed to college where I began to catch glimpses of the enormity of the world and the different people, traditions, attitudes, values, and beliefs. I have always been a “watcher” and have enjoyed learning by reading, observing, and listening. My career has been varied—like Doug, I am restless and intellectually curious—but when I become knowledgeable and am no longer feeling challenged—I want to move on. So I did, with no more than 5 years in any one job before restlessness set in. I worked in community mental health, in a private hospital stress management unit, in forensic rehabilitation working with men adjudicated criminally insane, in a university employee assistance program (where I was also able to do management consultation and training), and finally, ended up working with Doug Keene at Keene Trial Consulting
My first “watching and listening” opportunity with Doug was an employment discrimination case where the Plaintiff alleged she had been terminated due to discrimination related to a psychiatric condition. I had recently revamped the ADA program at the university where I was employed and was happy to discover that topic-specific knowledge was transferable and actually useful to the attorneys in that case. Shortly thereafter we flew to Arkansas for a plane crash lawsuit and as we flew, the plane made disconcerting noises. I was reading depositions and finally asked Doug if he heard those sounds (which were too reminiscent of what I was reading in depositions and pleadings) and Doug said something brilliant that I will never forget: “Don’t think about it”. I laughed and stopped obsessing. That project spurred our first paper on jurors and racism. When Enron and then 9/11 happened, we wrote more full length papers on the social impact and the influence on jury decision-making. I was hooked. We saw and heard troubling reactions during pretrial research, or we noted shifts in things we had come to expect. In search of understanding of how and why those shifts occurred, and what might cause them to evolve further spurred our shared curiosity, and we went to the social science research literature to see what we could learn there. Over the years we wrote and wrote and wrote. It was glorious!
Throughout my earlier working life, I often wished someone would pay me just to think and watch and listen—Doug offered an opportunity to do just that—and much, much more. Doug taught me how to do this work and after 19 years—I can honestly say I was never bored or restless. While there were similar themes in various cases—the facts of each case (and the venues, parties and the attorneys) varied dramatically and it was fascinating to think about how to enhance advocacy based in the findings of the social science research literature combined with our pretrial research. Over time, my work has included mock trials, report drafting, focus groups, juror background research, and endless, in-depth exploration of various topics of interest to me and to Doug that popped up in our work. As we found issues with which we were not familiar on cases we were working, we wrote white papers for our clients, eventually publishing many of them after the litigation had resolved. I learned how to write less “academically” and more so real people could understand and apply the papers to their day-to-day work. In 2008, Doug encouraged me to edit The Jury Expert and my intellectual curiosity was satisfied between KTC work, editing, and interactions with the many trial consultants and academics writing for The Jury Expert.
In 2009, Doug was out of the country for about a month and I realized there were so many things we learned along the way that would be lost if we did not write them down. So I wrote up some of those ‘lessons learned’ and shared them with Doug. This blog was born and has continued largely because we were both intellectually curious and noticed things as we worked and would then go look at the literature to see if there was an explanation for it that would help us understand. Sometimes we would write blog posts about what we learned, and other times we found that what we learned was bigger than blog posts would allow. Of those times when our intellectual curiosity led to terrific resources that were beyond the scope of the blog—there were some that were really close to my heart that we published in the virtual pages of The Jury Expert or on our website.
Here are some of the non-blog papers we have written over the years. First, articles that stemmed directly from cases we worked on or conversations with clients and the dynamics of mock jurors.
2009 Online and Wired for Justice: Why Jurors Turn to the Internet (the “Google mistrial”)
And then book reviews from Rita’s reading that were published in The Jury Expert.
2009 Book Review: The Juror Factor: Race and Gender in America’s Civil Courts
2012 Book Review: Ideology, Psychology, and Law
2012 Book Review: The Science of Attorney Advocacy
2013 Book Review: Social Media as Evidence: Cases, Practice Pointers, and Techniques
2014 Book Review: Law and Neuroscience
And finally, a few articles from Doug based on his practice.
Earlier papers were published on our website. If you would like copies of these papers, please let Doug know by sending him an email (mailto:email@example.com).
The Art of Apologizing (a look at what makes a good apology using examples like Eliot Spitzer, Charlie Sheen, David Letterman, Martin Luther King, Jr. and more)
Generation X: Jurors for the Next Fifty Years (a look at the original “latchkey kids” who are now grown up)
A Failure of Justice: Juries and Racism (prompted following an airplane crash project where racism was rampant and we did not know why–we figured it out here)
Making the Most of a Short Voir Dire (Doug’s thoughts on what is an ever-increasing reality)
To write this farewell message, I reviewed many of our blog posts. The wealth of ideas and insights in the blog posts and our full-length articles is impressive. I want to view it as a fitting body of work for a career. And even though we wrote them down—I realized I had forgotten many of the insights we encountered. That (to me) reflects the wealth of intellectual stimulation I experienced in doing this work. I want to thank Doug (and Sally) for (almost) 20 pretty wonderful years. I was able to end my working life on a high note rather than waiting for too long, and I actually got paid for thinking. The most important thing to me has been working with Doug who lived out his own values in his work—we did not do certain kinds of work that would have felt ethically unjustifiable, and when we took jobs on, we did the absolutely best job we could on every detail. It was fortunate that my own values and Doug’s were fairly aligned and I never felt as though I had compromised my values doing the work. It’s been wonderful and I will miss working with Doug regularly, will miss the intellectual stimulation, the curiosity-satisfying work, and the sense of doing work that actually “mattered”. I will not miss my early morning (from 1am until about 3:30am) treks to copy centers to have everything accurately printed and ready for Day 2 of mock trials!
After years of dreading retirement, which I thought would be horribly boring—I have found there are a plethora of things I always wanted to do that I now have time to do. I am also retiring and have relocated from the furnace that is Austin, Texas to the cool, green lushness of Salem, Oregon. This spring is the first time in about 25 years that I have seen spring burst forth and just keep bursting and bursting. It’s a new life.
Our goal with all this research, writing, and publishing was to share what we saw as “best practices” with the litigation advocacy community. Thank you all for reading and talking with us about our ideas. I hope you will use our hard work writing in this blog, on our website, and in The Jury Expert as a resource. All of it has truly been a labor of love.