CLE on Jury Selection, June 12, 2019: The Class We Should Have Gotten in Law School But Didn’t

I will be presenting a full-day CLE on the art, science, and real-deal practicality of jury selection on June 12, 2019 in San Francisco. Click here for details and registration.

If you want something specific to be covered, let me know by contacting me through the “Contact!” button at the top of the blog– if your idea is not already in the talk, I will surely consider it.

Looking forward to it.

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Podcast: ‘Bull’ persists; so do we. Episode 2

Click here for podcast.

CBS persists in airing ‘Bull,’ giving us episode 2 on 9/27/16, “The Woman in 8D.”  Alleged trial consultant Dr. Bull’s crime spree continues unabated, along with the ridiculous nonsense that mostly comprises this show. As ever, fiction is great; outright falsehood is not. And in a year in which the American public is being told that its institutions are rigged – government, financial markets, the media, elections – it is harmful that the public is now also being told that its justice system is rigged. Rigged by a smarmy, cocky, godlike consultant who single-handedly somehow has the power to empanel any jury he wants to achieve any outcome he wants, committing crimes, blowing his clients’ attorney-client privilege as well as anything that would be covered by work product protections, flouting all laws of procedure, not getting the attorneys who employ him disbarred and on and on. Look, this isn’t like complaining, “That TV surgeon used a clamp instead of forceps,” or a fictional TV chef using a mandoline when she should be using a rasp. While annoying, those are errors, not whole-cloth falsehoods that give a recklessly false picture of the world depicted.

And, seriously… ELEVEN mock trials? And they don’t even lead you to the OBVIOUS THEME that the defendant is a hero? Ugh.

Join two accomplished trial consultants, Rich Matthews and Richard Gabriel (Decision Analysis) as they discuss this show.

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Podcast: Stepping in ‘Bull’: Another trial consultant & I discuss this ridiculous and harmful show.

Click here for podcast, Stepping in ‘Bull’

CBS launched a new show from the apparently forgetful mind of Dr. Phil, that pretends to be about trial consultants. Fiction is great; outright falsehood is not. And in a year in which the American public is being told (correctly, incorrectly, or partially either) that its institutions are rigged – government, financial markets, the media, elections – it is harmful that the public is now also being told that its justice system is rigged. Rigged by a smarmy, cocky, godlike consultant who single-handedly somehow has the power to empanel any jury he wants to achieve any outcome he wants, flouting all laws of procedure, committing crimes, not getting the attorneys who employ him disbarred and on and on. Look, this isn’t like complaining, “That TV surgeon used a clamp instead of forceps,” or a TV mechanic tightening the lugs on a wheel in the wrong order. While annoying, those are errors, not whole-cloth falsehoods that give a dangerously false picture of the legal system.

Join two accomplished trial consultants, myself and Sonia Chopra (ChopraKoonan) as we discuss this show. There might be a little swearing.

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5 Mistakes Just About All Trial Attorneys Make in Jury Selection (yep, maybe you, too)

Here is a partial list of mistakes that nearly all trial attorneys make:

1. Not Knowing the Actual LAW of Jury Selection.

I get blank stares from attorneys when I talk about the actual statutes that govern jury selection — which could well give us good things our party is entitled to under the law. In California, that’s the Code of Civil Procedure sections 222.5 (for civil & bits for criminal trials) and 223 (for criminal trials). Your jurisdiction may vary, but it has similar statutes, too.


Continue reading

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Rich on ‘Celebrity Court Radio’ re ex-Gov Rowland conviction

Elizabeth Kelly, Esq.

Elizabeth Kelley, Esq. Host of ‘Celebrity Court Radio’

I was on Elizabeth Kelley’s ‘Celebrity Court Radio’ show yesterday, available by clicking here. (I’m approximately 10 minutes into the show.) The subject was the conviction of John Rowland in a Connecticut federal court for violations of campaign disclosure/finance laws and obstruction of justice. He faces 57 years in prison. This is ten years after the felony conviction that drove him out of office as Governor of the Nutmeg State. This time, the jury convicted him after seven hours of deliberation over two days. Clearly, they saw the case pretty much the same way, which does not always happen with any group of 12 people.

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75 Seconds of Jury Selection Thoughts

LadyJusticeImageClick here for video.

This was recorded by the Animal Law Defense Fund after I gave a presentation on jury issues in animal abuse prosecutions. (Biggest challenge: lots of jurors don’t consider it “real” crime when compared to murder and residential burglary, etc. So voir dire is, yet again, really important.)

Obviously, there is a lot more to say about jury or mediation persuasion in your particular case, civil or criminal. So click on Contact and get in touch with me.

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Expert Testimony: Some Science & Some Art to Increase Your Value

All expert witnesses are gonna get one of these labels. Don't you want the first one?

All expert witnesses are gonna get one of these labels. Don’t you want the first one?

You’re an expert witness who wants to add the greatest possible value to your side. (Or you might be the attorney who wants to get the most juror persuasion out of your expert.) You’re in the right place.

Jurors taste expert witnesses in three flavors:

  • the Benevolent Educator,
  • the Hired Gun, or
  • the Superfluous Pontificator.

Continue reading

Posted in Depositions, Expert witness, Jury Persuasion, Jury Research, Trial, Writings | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Questions from Jurors are GOOD, Period.

Pulp Cover_Juror QuestionsThere’s a story in the July 21 online edition of the Boston Globe about a trial in which jurors have asked 281 questions, and in my opinion, the piece skews rather negatively about the whole practice of allowing jurors to ask written questions during trials. That’s wrong: Juror questions are a good thing for you, Counsel, and you should be enabling them in every one of your trials. Continue reading

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Summer Book Recommendation for Civil and Criminal Litigators: “Acquittal” by Richard Gabriel

‘Acquittal: An Insider Reveals the Stories And Strategies Behind Today’s Most Infamous Verdicts’ by trial consultant Richard Gabriel is a great summer read which I recommend to all attorneys who try cases – even civil litigators. Continue reading

Posted in Jury Persuasion, Jury Psychology & Dynamics, Jury Selection, Trial, Writings | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

The Difference Between an Expert and an Expert Witness

We think how we speak after awhile. An expression can become detached from its origins and then lead to blinders.  In litigation world, saying “expert” and not “expert witness” is one of the particularly bad ones, made worse by its near universality. Here’s why we should knock that off. Continue reading

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When to Stop Voir Dire

Some weeks ago, I was talking with a lawyer who probably does a dozen trials per year and has been doing it for 15 years with results that are well above average. She was lamenting her discomfort with the jury selection process, especially the oral questioning of prospective jurors. Among other things, she said, “And how do you even know when to stop?” Continue reading

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Will You Give These Jurors What They Want?

Many thanks to Alex for his kind quotes.

At Counsel Table

jury1A couple of weeks ago, I sent fellow blogger and trial consultant Rich Matthews an email asking if he would comment on a post I was thinking about writing. It would be called “Avoid These Five Ways Of Alienating The Jury.” I was expecting him to provide a laundry list of “don’t dos” if you want to stay on a jury’s good side, such as wearing a bow tie,† showing up late, interrupting witnesses, etc.

Instead, Rich offered a much shorter list of ways–just two–to give the jury what they want and expect. On reflection, Rich’s list of “dos” made much more sense than my proposed list of “don’ts”. Here’s what Rich said:

“I think jurors want two and only two things from counsel, and get alienated easily when these are violated: help with understanding the material, and not wasting their time. That’s it. As obvious as that might sound…

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Even More Words Lawyers Should Banish

Textemada (d.b.a. the Torquemada of Text) is back with more words and phrases that lawyers simply must banish from their vocabularies. I would say “at least in front of jurors,” but I think the reality is that our minds get trained by whatever we do, wherever we do it. The person who says “disingenuous” around the office – and, boy, is there a more weasely word than ‘disingenuous’? – will likely say it in court, too. Continue reading

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Significant Appellate Decisions About Jurors & Jury Selection, 2012-13

Here are 19 appellate decisions from 2012-13 regarding jurors and jury selection that you should know about. (Via Prezi; great thanks to creator T. Smith.) Continue reading

Posted in Jury Psychology & Dynamics, Jury Selection, Trial, Writings | 2 Comments

Alex Craigie: Five Ways To Use A Jury Consultant Effectively

Alex Craigie, Esq., a litigator based in Los Angeles, gentleman and scholar, writes a blog called ‘At Counsel Table,’ which I recommend. Today, he has published on “Five Ways To Effectively Use A Jury Consultant,” in which he has generously used some of my thoughts. Please read it.

Alex and I both hope to help you bring about resolutions that are (a) more favorable to your client, and (b) sooner than later. And if your case must go to trial, well then let’s get the best damn results.

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Contempt in Court: Too Many Lawyers’ Attitude Toward Jurors

The online blog of the ABA Journal asked a question recently: “What words or phrases do you think should be avoided in front of a jury?” Continue reading

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One juror’s experience. Excellent read.

Every so often, I see something that a juror has written about his or her experience as a juror, and they are always valuable. Some moreso than others. A man named Gerry Walker in New York City wrote a terrific two-part essay about his recent jury service. I hope you will read both parts. Continue reading

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The Mini-Opening Before Oral Questioning: Upgrade Your Voir Dire

Many states permit the lawyers to make a brief opening statement before the oral questioning of prospective jurors (e.g., California Code of Civil Procedure, sec. 222.5). If your state permits this, you should absolutely do it. Continue reading

Posted in Jury Persuasion, Jury Psychology & Dynamics, Jury Selection, Opening Statement, Trial, Writings | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments