Some thoughts about trial&jurors

Here are some good thoughts from the The National Law Journal February 2, 2009. In an article entitled "Jurors are more then cogs in the justice machine" by Kevin O’Brien he makes these points:

  • Surveys suggest that jurors on the whole take seriously their responsibilities. A Harris Poll in 2004 for the ABA found that 84% of the jurors believed that jury duty was an important civic duty even if inconvenient. 75% would want their case tried by a jury rather then a judge.
  • Trial lawyers would be wise to concentrate on presenting their clients case in ways that reinforce and validate as much as possible the jurors conception of its special responsibilities. Empowering the jury with their authority to determine the issues and render a verdict
  • A sweeping statement of what is at issue in opening statement draws the jury into the case. Clarence Darrow was a master at this. In one of his famous labor trials he told the jury "this is not really a criminal case. But an episode in the great battle for human liberty…which will not end so long as the children of one father shall e compelled to toil to support the children of another in luxury and ease. "
  • Attempts by trial lawyers to bond with a jury are usually a mistake. Jurors understand the unique role of lawyers but want in return respect fo their unique role.  

In another article "The courtroom as a short attention span theater" by Troy Cox he notes:

  • Good teachers combat ADD symptoms with techniques to focus distract able children such as making learning fun and positive, making it interactive and concise. There is no reason why trial lawyers can’t use these same techniques to focus destructible jurors.
  • Identifying one core idea is a technique taken from the U.S. Army planning concept known as "commander’s intent" which refers to a plan’s ultimate goal. Trial lawyers can identify the core idea of a case by stripping an idea down to its most critical essence. This helps maintain focus. If courtroom themes create a lasting visceral impression they will change jurors opinions.
  • Multimedia evidence makes a presentation more memorable. The well known Weiss-McGrath report compared retention of information by method of presentation. The group presented with information by oral presentation only retained 10% of the information 72 hours later. The group that was presented with only visual information retained 20% of the information. The group was presented with both oral and visual information retained 65% of the information.
  • Studies have shown that jurors are overwhelmed by the amount of information presented during a trial and easily become bored, confused and frustrated. When the message becomes too complicated the jurors are unlikely to try harder to understand or blame themselves. They either turn off or blame the lawyer or both. A trial lawyer should think like a TV news anchor in presenting evidence making it clear and easily understood.

It is usually better to read or show the transcript of actual testimony then to paraphrase because the jurors trust what they can see for themselves and accept it.

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