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The “Poverty of Attention” at Trial

January 30th, 2023|

On a recent Armchair Expert podcast, host Dax Shepard paraphrased a quote by Herbert Simon, the gist being “…a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention…”  Wanting to get the quote just right, I looked it up and while the simple paraphrase is fantastic, there are too many gems in the full quote to not repeat it here: “In an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information

Is expert remote testimony less credible than in-person testimony? | Online Jury Research Update

January 19th, 2023|

Attorneys use a variety of communication modalities to present expert testimony to jurors and judges, including telephonic, recorded, video-conferenced, in-person (in-court) and transcribed. Trow Jones (2023) examined the influence of in-person, telephonic and video-conferenced testimony modalities on jurors' judgments of an expert's credibility and the weight jurors assign to an expert's testimony when reaching verdicts....

Find and Eliminate the “Stop/Don’t Stop” Moments in your Case Presentation

January 5th, 2023|

A funny Instagram post caught my eye the other day – a STOP sign with another sign immediately under it that said, “No stopping any time.” While surly there’s an explanation or with some thought, one could figure it out, it is still a bit of a head scratcher. It also made me think about all the times that jurors receive either contradictory or confusing messages during trial. With years of experience and knowledge about extremely nuanced details of the law, attorneys either do not notice or are not troubled by contradiction and confusion since those don’t really exist in

How do jurors decide if a witness is telling the truth? | Online Jury Research Update

December 17th, 2022|

One of jurors' most common tasks in a trial is to assess witness truthfulness... While everyday deception detection is poor, jurors might be especially well-placed to assess the truth of witness accounts... Does the adversarial nature of a trial ... allow jurors to be better at judging witness veracity?... Chalmers and colleagues (2022) conducted an extensive and comprehensive investigation into how jurors assess witness veracity. Chalmers and colleagues' research involved two trial reconstructions -- of a non-sexual assault and a rape case -- scripted with input from legal practitioners, performed by actors, and professionally filmed and edited. A total of

The White-Collar Defense Juror and the “Trump Effect”: An Empirical Analysis

December 8th, 2022|

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

How do jurors treat contracts formed as a result of fraud? | Online Jury Research Update

December 8th, 2022|

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

Does attorney incivility lose jury trials? | Online Jury Research Update

December 2nd, 2022|

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,

How do jurors respond to a LGBTQ+ panic defense? | Online Jury Research Update

November 27th, 2022|

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....

Do context-related nonprobative photos help or hurt a witness' credibility? | Online Jury Research Update

November 22nd, 2022|

hile information nonprobative to the truth of a statement is not admissible in court, it nonetheless often is presented as a part of probative evidence. .. Research has found that when judging the truth value of a statement, people's sense of the truth is affected by nonprobative information. For example, people are more likely to say a statement is true when accompanied by a context-related photo than when no photo is present... This "truthiness" effect reflects the influence of information nonprobative of the truth on people's judgments of truth. Derksen and colleagues (2020) conducted two experiments exploring the role of

How do jurors weigh opinions of forensic experts pre-exposed to case information? | Online Jury Research Update

November 7th, 2022|

In 2015, the National Commission on Forensic Science (NCFS) affirmed that forensic examiners should draw conclusions solely from the physical evidence and not from any other evidence in the case. A suspect's criminal history, confession or alibi do not involve assessment of the physical evidence, and examiners are urged to be blind to such task-irrelevant information to prevent biasing their conclusions about the evidence. While over 70% of forensic examiners believe they can mitigate any bias from task-irrelevant case information simply by ignoring their expectations (Kukucka et al., 2017), scientific research overwhelming has found that knowledge of task-irrelevant case information