How accurately do jurors self-diagnose their ability to be fair? Online Jury Research Update

June 28th, 2021|

The judicial system weights a juror's self-diagnoses of bias and fairness during voir dire very heavily, assuming that, as a factual matter, jurors can undertake accurately this self-assessment.In the context of a medical malpractice case, Yokum, Robertson and Palmer (2019) tested whether mock jurors exposed to negative pre-trial publicity are able to identify the influence the material had on their decision-making....

Are attorneys more persuasive when expressing anger? Online Jury Research Update

June 19th, 2021|

Emotional expression is a key part of trial advocacy for attorneys. Many attorneys are encouraged to demonstrate conviction through the expression of anger as a way to gain credibility with juries. Salerno and colleagues (Salerno & Phalen, 2018, 2019; Salerno et al., 2018) conducted a series of experiments involving nearly 700 participants from across the country to test whether expressing anger in court makes attorneys more effective....

Is one expert offering multiple points more persuasive than multiple experts offering distinct points? Online Jury Research Update

June 4th, 2021|

Judges often limit the number and kinds of experts who can testify at trial, paying particular attention to repetition of information across experts. Nonetheless, attorneys often still can choose to diffuse needed expert testimony across multiple expert witnesses or concentrate needed expertise within one (usually multidisciplinary) expert witness. The choice matters. Harkins and Petty (1981, 1987) conducted numerous experiments focusing on the persuasiveness of (a) multiple versus single sources of information (b) making either one or multiple arguments (c) in favor of proposals participants strongly oppose...

Which jurors are more likely to find against defendants in bad faith cases? Online Jury Research Update

May 20th, 2021|

Juror demographic characteristics such as age, race, gender, marital status, income, education and number of children predict almost no variation in the verdict preferences of individual jurors in either civil or criminal cases, across many years and studies, with only a few exceptions. One recently discovered exception to this almost uniform inability for juror demographics to predict verdicts in civil cases is the ability of...

Does calling an accuser a ‘complaining witness’ or ‘victim’ matter? Online Jury Research Update

May 20th, 2021|

A court's decision about allowing the use of the term ‘victim’ versus ‘complaining witness’ may seem trivial, and yet language is known to have powerful effects. The term ‘victim’ can be argued to presuppose what a trial is meant to determine and therefore deny defendants' right to the presumption of innocence (no different than if a defendant is called a ‘criminal’ prior to a jury verdict). On the other hand, ‘victim’ is used in statutes and does not necessarily presuppose criminal activity by the defendant. Modern case law on the issue varies. The general principle is that it is acceptable

Do requests with precise or round amounts result in larger awards and settlements? (April, 2021, Issue 4)

April 27th, 2021|

A plaintiff's attorney can request damage awards and make settlement offers using more precise or less precise amounts in the request. Conklin (2020) studied whether a plaintiff's attorney can increase the punitive damages awarded simply by requesting a more precise amount of money. A survey was given to 609 people that contained demographic questions, a summary of a products liability case, a punitive damages request, and a question asking what amount -- if any -- survey respondents would award in punitive damages. The punitive damages requested by the plaintiff's attorney varied across the surveys, being either $497,000 (a more precise

Does judicial rehabilitation in voir dire about the insanity defense reduce juror bias? (April, 2021, Issue 3)

April 18th, 2021|

During voir dire, judges frequently attempt to rehabilite potential jurors who express an inability to be impartial. In an insanity defense case, jurors opposed to a not guilty by reason of insanity (NGRI) verdict are often asked if they can put aside their personal feelings about the insanity defense and base their decision on the evidence and the law. Crocker and Kovera (2010) examined whether judicial rehabilitative questioning during voir dire in an insanity defense case reduced the influence of juror bias on verdict judgments in a simulated trial...

Does judicial rehabilitation in voir dire debias jurors in civil cases? (April, 2021, Issue 2)

April 18th, 2021|

In civil cases, potential jurors often express concerns about plaintiffs' motives, corporate defendants, non-economic damages, the burden of proof, lawsuits, and the like. Judges often ask rehabilitative questions to jurors expressing these concerns about their ability to set aside their opinions and base their decision on only the evidence and the law in the case. Salerno and colleagues (2020) tested the effectiveness of judicial rehabilitation in debiasing potential jurors in three separate mock trial experiments based on actual civil cases litigated in an American court involving insurance bad faith, medical malpractice for an aortic rupture misdiagnosis, and medical malpractice for

What certainty do jurors require to convict a defendant? (April, 2021, Issue 1)

April 17th, 2021|

Jurors in criminal cases are instructed to find guilt when proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Jurors also are provided imprecise definitions of what constitutes reasonable doubt: an actual and substantial doubt, an abiding conviction, being firmly convinced, being morally certain, not wavering or vacillating, having no real doubt, causing a careful person to hesitate, and (tautologically) a doubt that is reasonable. Due to the imprecise nature of the reasonable doubt standard, the certainty jurors require of themselves to find guilt varies across jurors, cases and defendants. Conklin (2020) studied the certainty individual jurors feel is minimally necessary to find guilt