Pro Bono Continuing Legal Education
Dr. David Cannon and DeAnn Sinrich, Esq. present at the DRI Damages Seminar in Las Vegas.
As the country becomes increasingly diverse and mobile, communities are changing at quick rates. New residents bring new or different ways of thinking that can have a serious impact on jury deliberations. It is important to know exactly how those in your community view issues pertaining to your case.
Research and Resources
Attorney Use of Ingratiation During Voir Dire
Dr. Brodsky and Dr. Cannon explored the impact of ingratiation during voir dire. We've all seen it. Some attorneys throw out compliments during voir dire. Rather than asking questions to explore bias, some attorneys lay on the charm and attempt to use their time to make the jury pool like them (and, in return, their client) more. Does this work? We performed a study in which participants were exposed to the same attorney who either used no ingratiation, moderate ingratiation, or high ingratiation. Jurors liked the attorney most when he was moderately ingratiating, more than when he was not ingratiating or when he was highly ingratiating attorney. The use of ingratiation even impacted juror verdict. The abstract for this article is available by clicking here. (Please contact us directly if you would like a free copy of this article.)
The Roles of Racial Prejudice and Juror Empathy in Death Penalty Cases
In capital trials archival research documents race-of-victim discrimination while the experimental research supports a race-of-offender effect. Using interviews with jurors, Dr. Edelman sought to reconcile this conflict and explain how and when race effects are likely to occur. White jurors were more likely to discount mitigating evidence when the victim was white. White jurors empathized more with a white than black victim.
Victim race also had an indirect effect on the evaluation of the defendant. Killers of whites were evaluated less positively than killers of blacks. These two effects suggest that white jurors were less likely to hold a life sentence position when a black defendant was convicted for murdering a white victim.
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Take a look at this... more on graphic photos
Dr. Edelman elaborates on his research on the effects of gruesome photographs on jury verdicts. Dr. Edelman concluded that jurors who view graphic images are more likely to deliver plaintiff verdicts. His study was based on a product liability case involving an infant whose hands were severely burned by an allegedly defective vaporizer, and he found that photographs of the child's burned hands had a significant impact on the verdict. When participants did not view photographs of the injury, 58 percent found in favor of the defense. When participants saw pictures of the infant's burned hands, 51 percent voted for the plaintiff. Viewing the photos also "significantly" boosted the amount of non-economic damages participants awarded. Click here to read more about how gruesome photographs influenced damages.
Technology and Jury Selection
We regularly publish our research finding findings in local bar journals and other
consulting related publications, including our newsletter.
Mr. Fitzgerald, Esq. and Dr. Cannon speak about community and juror diversity. As community demographics change, so does the face of the jury pool. As the United States becomes more culturally, racially, and ethnically diverse, it is increasingly important to understand how the diversification of the United States will impact the jury.
Dr. Edelman discusses the use of graphic injury photos by Plaintiff's attorneys. Use of extremely graphic photographs has become commonplace in civil trials. But exactly what kind of effect do these pictures have on jurors? Do the photographs inflame juror emotions, or do most jurors view them as an attempt to manipulate emotions? Read more to find out.
Jurors have come to expect dueling experts, so how can you make your expert more credible and believable in the eyes of a jury? Dr. Cannon discusses juror perceptions of expert witnesses and the qualities jurors look for in assessing the credibility of experts. Learn how to get the most from your expert, and how to help make his or her testimony stand out.
Often, using the perfect word or phrasing the perfect question means a lot more to an attorney than to a juror. Don't sweat the perfect question. Rapport and style are so much more important. Focus more on asking open-ended questions, general probes, and encouraging and engaging remarks to truly open your jurors up and get them talking.
Develop a plan of attack before going into jury selection. What attitudes, experiences, and background characteristics do you think most impact how a juror will view your case? Are there any characteristics to look for across different kinds of cases? Ask yourself these questions as you develop your voir dire questions. Make sure you have a plan to look for leadership characteristics in potential jurors. To read more about what you should be looking for during jury selection, click on the link above.
Does proximity to the jury have an impact on jury verdict?
Attorneys have often asked whether prosecutors and plaintiffs have an unfair advantage because they sit closer to the jury. Some speculate that sitting closer to the jury gives that side an unfair advantage because it helps that side establish a better rapport with the jury. Just how influential is proximity to the jury? Dr. Edelman concludes - not very! Over the course of a trial, other factors are more significant than where to sit, including opportunities to communicate directly with jurors during opening and closing statements. Click here for more information.
Dr. Cannon has appeared on KNBC Los Angeles to talk about jury service in the economy and on CBS Radio Los Angeles to discuss the use of social networking tools in jury selection. Click here to read about Dr. Cannon in the Wall Street Journal.
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