Shaken Baby Syndrome

May 23rd, 2014|

What if "shaken baby syndrome" has nothing to do with shaking babies? What if, for decades, well-intentioned but quixotic passions have created Kafka-like nightmares for hundreds of innocent parents, relatives, nannies, day care providers and other infant caretakers who have been wrongly convicted and imprisoned?I recently learned of a controversy with implications as significant for reversing wrongful convictions in "shaken baby syndrome" child abuse cases as new DNA evidence has been for reversing wrongful convictions in certain murder and rape cases.The British Nanny CaseYou may remember a very famous "shaken-baby syndrome" case that occurred in 1997 involving a British nanny

Are Older Jurors Less Able to “Get Your Case?

May 23rd, 2014|

Psychologist Jeremy Dean writes that as we age, our brains "show the benefits of experience."  The wisdom of age is not a myth.As we age we may experience instances of difficult word-finding or name-remembering, but according to Dr. Dean, "It's not that people are forgetting words with age, it's that there are more words competing for attention."Apparently, as we age our hard drive becomes more full; the vocabulary is still there, but retrieval may be more difficult and take longer.Link:The Myth of Cognitive Decline Aging is a Mixed BagThe Emory University Alzheimer's Disease Research Center explains that while "crystallized" intelligence associated with accumulated experience

Moral Conundrums and Persuasion

June 19th, 2013|

Moral Conundrums and PersuasionAlan J. Cohen, PhD, Jury Insights  Edward Snowden  Edward Snowden - A Moral Conundrum Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor Whistle Blower Hero, Terrorist, Traitor Cowboy Hacker, Foreign Spy in Chief Good Man, Bad Man, Robin Hood ThiefMorally speaking-who is your client, and what is your case about?Most people are a little perplexed when facing questions of conflicting situational morality; that is, the very kind of moral questions that reside in many cases making it past summary judgment motions.Edward Snowden is a pretty good example of a person whose actions present a situational moral conundrum. Imagine taking the position

Jury Decision – A Private Lie?

April 23rd, 2013|

Jury Decision - A Private Lie?Jason Alexander as George Costanza, Seinfeld TV Series"It isn't a lie if you believe it," says George Costanza, the preternaturally scheming character in the Seinfeld series.Okay. So then, if you know it isn't true, it is a lie, right?Do  you have any legal right to protect a false representation of yourself,  if you thought you were paying an entity to keep it a secret?What if it's a lie that you have nurtured, like an actor's stage name?Does an actor have a right to privacy to protect a lie that the actor created?If an entity exposes

Advanced Witness Preparation– Part 2

January 14th, 2013|

Advanced Witness Preparation Challenging Personality Traits Part 2Managing Challenging Personality Traits In a recent post, "Part 1, Identifying Challenging Personality Traits," which you can find at this website-blog,  I wrote about certain types of client characterological issues that are often exacerbated by the adversarial nature of litigation and may undermine successful settlement or trial outcome. While my title refers to Witness Preparation, the theme of this post is managing the client with Challenging Personality Traits (the CPT client) throughout your attorney-client relationship. If the attorney's relationship with the CPT client breaks down or becomes adversarial, successful witness preparation will not

Advanced Witness Preparation — Part 1

December 5th, 2012|

  Advanced Witness Preparation Challenging Personality Traits Part 1 Identifying Challenging Personality Traits   Recently, I have sent a four segment series of posts regarding the basics of witness preparation, which you may also find at this web-blog.   These earlier posts dealt primarily with performance or communication type issues. In actual practice, however, performance is the last step of my approach to witness preparation. Hierarchically, before managing communication, the attorney should manage character and content issues.   THE THREE C'S IN THE HIERARCHY OF WITNESS PREPARATION     (1) Manage Characterological Emotional-Behavioral Issues (2) Manage Strategic Content (3) Manage

Is your key witness really prepared for deposition? Part 4 of 4

November 7th, 2012|

Part 4Appropriate Attitude; Being Spontaneous   Showing Appropriate Focus, Attitude and Demeanor   Explain that (even in video depositions) only verbal responses can be recorded as text, and it is much better to say "yes" or "no" rather than yeah or nah.     Instruct your key witness to sit with a slightly forward lean toward the examiner, with hands relaxed and overlapping on the table; the hands may clasp, but without the fingers interlaced (which can reveal white knuckles under stress).             The witness should maintain eye contact, which means generally allowing the eyes

Is your key witness really prepared for deposition? Part 3 of 4

October 14th, 2012|

Part 3:Leading Questions;Staying Real     Breaking Up a Pattern of Leading Questions Telephone Sales ("yes-set"): If you're like most people, you're paying more for heating your home than ever before, right? Yes If I had a way for you to take hundreds of dollars off your energy bill, you'd want to do that, right? Yes. If you found out that the government is literally paying people hundreds of dollars to put solar energy panels on their roofs, you would probably want to get in on that, wouldn't you? (Yes...) Opposing counsel may conduct a part of a deposition as a

Is your key witness really prepared for deposition? Part 2 of 4

October 9th, 2012|

 Part 2: Taking Turns;   Being Brief     Taking Turns     Explain to your key witness that a deposition is not like an ordinary conversation or interview. Testimony is a bit more like a tennis match in which you wait for the ball to come over the net, and then you hit it back. Another analogy is the visual image of catching a baseball and holding it momentarily before throwing it back.   In training this concept, sometimes it is helpful to use an object (like a coffee mug or cell phone) to create a speaking baton, and

Is your key witness really prepared for deposition? Part 1 of 4

September 26th, 2012|

Part 1:OrientationRecollectionI started out to write a one page post with a title  like top ten tips for witness preparation. But, it ended up expanding,  so I am going to send this out as a series of 4 posts exploring the very basics  of witness preparation--what one of my clients calls testimony  101.In over 18 years as a trial  consultant I have worked with scores of attorneys in preparation of their key  witnesses. Preparing the key witness is an amalgam of teaching legal case  strategy and tactical communication skills using role play practice under  "game-like" conditions.Time and  PatienceAre you spending