The Punishment Profile: Know the Situational Triggers

September 16th, 2021|

By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm: From the time we were kids, most of us swiftly learned what was likely to get us punished: a spanking or — for more recent generations — a time out. Usually, that was brought out by something we did, or by the situation we found ourselves in. That frame of punishment plays a role in litigation. With or without the category of punitive damages, the motivation to punish (as opposed to the less dramatic motivation to merely compensate a party for its loss) can factor in to the way a jury, judge, or arbitrator makes their

Courts: Requiring Vaccines Will Influence the Jury Pool. Require Them Anyway

September 13th, 2021|

By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm: With mounting frustration over the duration and human cost of the Coronavirus pandemic, along with the sluggish pace of vaccinations in many parts of the country, President Joe Biden, this past week, threw down the gauntlet and announced a sweeping new policy of mandating vaccines for federal employees and for businesses with more than 100 employees. The move will affect as many as 100 million American workers, and also reprises a question that has been hanging over courthouses across the country: Should jurors similarly have a vaccination requirement? The combination of the close quarters of a

How are witnesses who answer questions quickly perceived? Online Jury Research Update

September 11th, 2021|

When witnesses are asked questions, sometimes they respond quickly and sometimes they pause before answering. Does a fast answer or a pause before responding make a difference to how believable the witness's statements come across? Are faster or slower responses thought to be more sincere and truthful? Ziano and Wang (2021) conducted 14 experiments involving 7,565 participants to explore how pausing prior to responding to questions affects witness believability....

Better Instructions: Make Your Jurors Accountable Devil’s Advocates

September 9th, 2021|

By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm Traditionally, we might think about what happens in the jury room as a kind of “Black box,” an unknown process with jurors keeping their secrets on how they got to their verdicts. In practice, however, we know a fair amount about what’s in that “box.” Based on both scholarly research and the practical experience of running mock trials and talking with jurors after real trials, we have a window into what goes on once they’re on their own. In both the mock trials and the real trials, experience teaches that there’s a range in how serious

Jury Lessons from the Great American Road Trip

September 8th, 2021|

Last week, I finished a three-week road trip with my family in which we drove over 3,000 miles, camped every night, and saw some of America’s most amazing offerings such as Rushmore, the Badlands, Devil’s Tower, and Yellowstone. Sadly, I had never before taken so much time off in my professional life, but doing so allowed me to step back and see the big picture of the work that we do. With all that time on the road, I started to see some important parallels between my trip and what we need to do in the courtroom. Here are five

Do frequent objections by attorneys alienate jurors? Online Jury Research Update

September 6th, 2021|

During trial, objections are the primary way in which an attorney can enforce evidentiary rules. Many attorneys worry that objecting might alienate a jury. Reed (2019) examined juror reactions to objections in two studies. In both studies, mock jurors listened to an audio trial of an armed robbery case and then rendered a verdict, rated the favorability of both the prosecuting and defense attorney, and answered questions related to memory for the evidence....

Trial team members, not vendors or facilitators

September 3rd, 2021|

I’m writing this on a Monday, so I’m going to vent a little. This is a topic I’ve had on my list to write about for quite some time; I just never got to it, in part, because I don’t like to venture into areas of self importance. But, here I go. As trial consultants, we at Magnus believe that, when we are retained, we become professional members of the trial team, offering our perspectives and expertise which come from a different place than the perspectives of the lawyers who are litigating the case. For example, Melissa has more education

Peremptories: Don’t Learn from Arizona

September 2nd, 2021|

By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm: In my last post, I wrote about how the state of Arizona has been a leader in testing options for online trials. That same day, however, Arizona became the first state to eliminate peremptory strikes in criminal and civil cases. So far, the media is covering the move as a bold stroke against institutional racism. Ultimately, however, I believe the prohibition is well-intentioned but flawed. It is true that minorities are often under-represented on juries, and also true that the resulting lack of diversity has an effect on deliberations. Further, it is true that the solution to

Trial team members, not vendors or facilitators

August 30th, 2021|

I’m writing this on a Monday, so I’m going to vent a little. This is a topic I’ve had on my list to write about for quite some time; I just never got to it, in part, because I don’t like to venture into areas of self importance. But, here I go. As trial consultants, we at Magnus believe that, when we are retained, we become professional members of the trial team, offering our perspectives and expertise which come from a different place than the perspectives of the lawyers who are litigating the case. For example, Melissa has more education

Online Trials: Learn from Arizona

August 30th, 2021|

By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm: Arizona may not be the model when it comes to partisan post-election audits. But when it comes to online or virtual trials, the “Cyber Ninjas” in that context seem to be doing much better. In the Grand Canyon state’s most populous jurisdiction, Maricopa County, civil parties can choose virtual juries in order to expedite the process. Leaders in the Superior Court for that venue did not simply default to that option, they studied it carefully. The current edition of the ABA’s Litigation publication features an article, “Virtual Juries: We Can, But Should We? And If So, How?”