Teaching Witnesses to Take Control of Their Answers

November 17th, 2021|

Outside of my traditional jury consulting work, I periodically work as an expert for change of venue motions, conducting original research and offering opinions based on the findings. As part of this work, I am sometimes deposed or asked to testify at court hearings. These experiences are incredibly helpful for when I work with witnesses to prepare them for their deposition. Of all the standard tips that consultants offer witnesses, most are easier said than done. It is one thing to sit across the table from a witness and tell him or her how to handle different scenarios, but it

A Practical Example of Teaching Science Through Narrative at Trial

October 14th, 2021|

One of my favorite non-fiction books of all time is Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything. The book tackles every major branch of science in its effort to explain our existence on Earth, and it is absolutely riveting. In fact, if you want to add thirty minutes of childlike awe to your day, spend a couple weeks reading this book. Early on in the introduction, Bryson explains why he wanted to tackle science with this book: “There seemed to be a mystifying universal conspiracy among textbook authors to make certain the material they dealt with never strayed too

Discovering the Two Personalities of Your Witness

September 30th, 2021|

There are generally two types of valuable information: 1) new information; and 2) old information conveyed in a new way to help you see it in a different light. This blog is intended to be the latter. I have talked ad nauseam about the importance of the performance of a key witness on the stand. There is little debate to be had on this issue, which is why I don’t put forth as much effort to make this point as I used to, but this creates a trained incapacity. It is so obvious to me that I take it for

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

Avoiding the Chaos Hammer in Your Litigation Case Story

August 10th, 2021|

In the final episode of the first season of Ted Lasso, the Apple TV comedy starring Jason Sudeikis as an American football coach turned English Premier soccer coach, Ted tells the team that in order to beat Man City, they have to try something new, and that meant pulling out every trick play the players had ever come up with, in order to create “chaos and confusion.” Ted summarized that they were going to hit Man City with the “Chaos Hammer!” Besides providing an opportunity to reference my favorite show of all time, the “chaos hammer” made me think about

Juror Engagement Versus Juror Listening

July 27th, 2021|

Kathy was dead set on sticking it to our client, the defendant. She knew in her bones that things had happened just the way the plaintiff had described, and it made her angry. It was only a few years earlier that Kathy had experienced a similar situation in her workplace where she was passed over for a promotion. It marked the beginning of a year-long unraveling of her life and Kathy blamed it all on her employer. As she listened to the plaintiff’s story, Kathy could see it perfectly in her head, as if she was personally experiencing it all

Don’t Let Your Case Strategy Languish Amidst a Changing Jury Pool

July 13th, 2021|

Back in May, the New York Times published an outstanding piece about the “blah” feeling that many are experiencing as we transition from the pandemic and lockdowns back into whatever is “normal” moving forward. As the author wrote, “Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield. And it might be the dominant emotion of 2021.” Recently, I’ve spoken to many attorneys who have experienced this feeling of languishing in their cases. Some have commented that they are working hard but feel like they

The Importance of Narrowing Your Arguments at Trial

July 1st, 2021|

One of the most important components of jury strategy development is also the one that is talked about the least and that is momentum in deliberations. When you dig in and really start to understand and appreciate the critically important role of momentum in deliberations, it can have tremendous implications for your strategy at trial. I have written many times before that too many trial attorneys fail to appreciate that the great debate at trial is not the one that takes place in the courtroom between the opposing attorneys, but the one that takes place in the deliberation room between

“L” is for…Lions! The Peril of Blind Spots in Litigation

June 15th, 2021|

As a die-hard Seahawk fan, I have little trouble finding ways to ridicule other teams, but boy did the Detroit Lions make it easy for me the other day. Spot it? When you’re already one of the worst teams in the NFL, advertising it with a giant “L” for your logo doesn’t make a lot of sense.  It begs the question, who thought this was a good idea and why didn’t anyone stop them? There were probably a couple of factors at play, and those same factors could be contributing to poor decisions and outcomes like this one in your

Making the Damn Feather Weigh More: Reframing Common Burden of Proof Arguments By Plaintiffs

June 1st, 2021|

“If you end up saying to yourself, I just don’t know, but it might be, then we’ve met our burden.” While I’ve listened to both plaintiff and defense attorneys frame their take on the burden of proof for years, this one made me go “hmmmm.” While the feather on the scale and the claim that you only need to be one tiny decimal point above 50% to vote for the plaintiff are tried and true plaintiff framing devices, this one struck me differently. I realized it was the additional phrase, “I just don’t know.” If you stop at that point,