For the last six years, litigators have pondered the question: Have jurors changed in the wake of the Trump era? Our nation underwent cataclysmic shifts in values and ideologies after Trump’s election in 2016 and became polarized on key social and political issues in unprecedented ways. As issues of racial, gender, and economic inequality rose to the forefront of our national consciousness, many wondered how these would affect the judgments that diverse groups of jurors make about white-collar defendants who are typically (though not always) White, male and wealthy. Do the assumptions about favorable defense jurors often held by white-collar defense lawyers continue
People are "contract formalists" (a) putting excessive weight on contracts' written terms (as compared to oral agreements), (b) believing that contracts are formed primarily through formalities such as signature and payment (even though contract law does not require such formalities), and (c) believing that a signed agreement obligates parties to abide by its terms (even when the agreement's terms go unread, the contract is unreasonably lengthy, or the terms are one-sided or unfair) (Wilkinson-Ryan, 2014; Wilkinson-Ryan and Hoffman, 2015). Said differently, people hold signees to a written contract's terms, even when the terms are buried in the fine print of
Over the years, many people have asked me what makes me qualified to work as a jury/trial consultant. I explain that I have a Ph.D. in social psychology, which is the scientific study of how people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by other people and situations. Social thinking, social influence, and social behavior are studied by my colleagues and me, with the goal of understanding the ways in which individual and group behavior is influenced by others’ presence and behavior. In consideration of the fact that a jury is comprised of individual jurors, who must work together to
Incivility in the courtroom is a widespread phenomenon that has myriad causes and takes myriad forms. Attorney rudeness, hostility, intimidation, personal attacks, unnecessary combativeness, poor manners and overzealous advocacy are examples of "Rambo Litigation" that violates norms of both courtroom decorum and mutual respect, and yet frequently occurs. Incivility increases judges' stress (Miller et al., 2021) and causes negative emotions in observers (e.g., anxiety, anger, disgust, fear) (see, for review, Edwards, 2022). Are jurors similarly affected by attorney incivility and, if so, does attorney incivility influence jurors' verdicts? Edwards (2022) examined how attorney incivility in the courtroom affected jurors' emotions,
A LGBTQ+ panic defense is a legal strategy that asks jurors, directly or implicitly, to consider a victim's sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression to explain a criminal defendant's violent reaction, including murder... Recent research has sought to identify characteristics of jurors that predispose them to finding a LGBTQ+ panic defense legitimate....
I keep a list of things clients have said during or after working with us on mock jury research. These tidbits illustrate the eye opening reactions some attorneys have when observing jurors deliberate. One of my favorites was from (now retired) Pete Burkert in Fort Myers, FL. After a series of mock juries, he said, excitedly, “It’s almost like cheating!” He was thrilled to know what resonated with typical jurors so that he could customize his case presentation. Knowing potential outcomes is one thing. Learning how to talk to a jury in their language is, however, critical in achieving