Eric Oliver is a nationally known jury and communications consultant at his company Metasystems in Detroit. He publishes News from the Mental Edge which I enjoy reading for the many ideas it offers. Here are some miscellaneous thoughts from the last issue.
Eric suggests that “harm, fairness, community (or group loyalty), authority and purity are the “primary colors” of our moral sense. He suggests forming our position around them. For example, the rule: “it’s wrong to needlessly injure people” involves the idea of harm. Treating all people equally involves fairness. And the idea that it is wrong to allow a toxic substance to poison unsuspecting people involves the idea of purity. Authority is involved in the idea “it may not be right, but, it’s the law.” When we are considering our approach to an issue in the case these ideas should be considered.
He suggests the following ideas for argument in the appropriate case:
- Take this family from where the defendant’s left them and help them get back on the right track heading toward some semblance of of what once could – and should – have been theirs
- Ensure that a worker doing the job anywhere in this chain of stores across the country can count on the level of personal respect, and fair dealing we each have every right to expect and no corporation has a right to take away
I liked his approach to the idea of right and wrong conduct in argument:
“where it is our sense of right and wrong come from? Most people think it is a gift from God who revealed his laws and elevates us with his love. A smaller number think that we figure the rules out for ourselves, using our capacity to reason and choosing a philosophical system to live by.”
Here are some suggestions I’ve been given for asking questions in jury selection. See what you think:
To identify the values of a juror is to ask them their favorite radio and television personalities.
Ask about how important honesty is to them when there is an issue of defendant credibility
Ask if what they do as a juror is important or is it just a waste of time.
Has anybody ever been in a position to bring a lawsuit and chose not to
How many of you understand the concept of running a medical stop sign?
What is your definition of quality medical care
Do you check the Internet about your medical condition before you seek medical care?
What is a doctor’s primary responsibility
Don Keenan is an outstanding plaintiff trial lawyer in Georgia. His trial theme in malpractice often is: “hope for the best plan for the worst” and another is “doctors should help was not hurt us”
Those are some quick thoughts for you to consider.