Testimony Mode: Note the Tradeoff Between Information Density and Juror Sensitivity

October 18th, 2021|Persuasive Litigator (Persuasion Strategies)|

By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm: Here’s an intuitive belief that many who work in the field of law might adhere to: More information leads to better decisions. Those who work in the social sciences, however, know that this does not always hold true. Based on the higher “cognitive load,” higher levels of information can also mean that the recipients of that information will try to simplify, rely on “heuristic” short-cuts, or decide based on information with less actual relevance. One recent study on eyewitness testimony provides a timely example of that. Two psychologists from University of California, Riverside (Hicks & Clark,

A Practical Example of Teaching Science Through Narrative at Trial

October 14th, 2021|The Sound Jury Library (Sound Jury Consulting)|

One of my favorite non-fiction books of all time is Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything. The book tackles every major branch of science in its effort to explain our existence on Earth, and it is absolutely riveting. In fact, if you want to add thirty minutes of childlike awe to your day, spend a couple weeks reading this book. Early on in the introduction, Bryson explains why he wanted to tackle science with this book: “There seemed to be a mystifying universal conspiracy among textbook authors to make certain the material they dealt with never strayed too

(Sometimes) Reinforce a Higher Threshold for Cause Challenges

October 14th, 2021|Persuasive Litigator (Persuasion Strategies)|

By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm: As you’re waiting your turn for voir dire, you notice that plaintiff’s counsel is getting a fair number of potential jurors to admit that they might have a bias — against lawsuits, against plaintiffs’ attorneys, against various damage categories, in favor of personal responsibility, and in favor of parties like the defendant, your client. In each case, the attorney seals the deal by getting the panelist to agree that Yes, it is a strong opinion, it is unlikely to change, and yes, they’re probably the wrong juror for this case.  As you mutely witness your adversary effectively

Things Back to Normal! Water Fountains, Crowded Elevators, Smiling Faces

October 12th, 2021|2's Company - Magnus Insights|

Hooray! Hooray! I had the privilege of selecting 2 juries, for 2 different clients, in 2 different courthouses, recently. Usually, this would be nothing to write about, however, these jury selections were noteworthy due to the fact that they were the first, and second, jury selections for me since the world shut down in March of 2020 because of the pandemic. I was thrilled, absolutely thrilled, to be back in a courthouse, wearing a dark suit and high heels, carrying a briefcase, and providing help to my clients as they faced challenging lawsuits. Things almost seemed like they were

Add Context to Your Voir Dire

October 11th, 2021|Persuasive Litigator (Persuasion Strategies)|

By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm: I came across a recent article in the publication Raw Story with the intriguing title, “There’s a big problem in opinion polling that mainstream media is missing” by Matt Robison. While not an academic piece, the article does address a problem that is driving academics crazy. I’ve noted in previous posts the now-familiar problem that, even with a behavior as concrete as voting, pollsters are increasingly finding it harder to find a representative pool, stick to a reasonable margin of error, and produce results that match reality. Robison quotes a meta-analysis of public opinion research (Berinsky,

Consider the ‘Message Effect’ of Inviting a Consultant to Help Your Witness

October 7th, 2021|Persuasive Litigator (Persuasion Strategies)|

By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm: Arriving for the preparation meeting, the witness notices that there’s someone new in the room: a communications consultant. A non-lawyer visiting from out-of-town, the consultant is introduced by the lawyer as a specialist in legal communication and as someone who “is here to help us prepare for your testimony.” Over the course of the meeting, the consultant does just that.  In addition to familiarizing the witness with the process of trial or deposition testimony, the consultant provides an overview of main goals, conveys a clear list of “do’s and don’ts,” and warns about potential tricks and traps.