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How is the Economy affecting Jurors?

How is the Economy affecting Jurors?

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The Aletheia Institute sponsored a webinar that addressed this question from the perspective of five jury consultants. These are the takeaway points I gained from listening to this program.

Data from 200 trial consultants showed that 8 out of 10 people thought the economy was bad. A person who is pessimistic about the future is less likely to award high damages to a plaintiff. Older jurors are less pessimistic. Pessimistic and concerned jurors are frequently ineffective jurors and may be more critical of the plaintiff, accepting the stereotype of the plaintiff as a greedy person. Focus group data showed that jurors still judge the plaintiff more harshly than they do the defendant.

Those who are most personally affected by the economy are least likely to volunteer this information. Attorneys who are permitted to do voir dire with jurors should approach this question gradually. Draw out jurors by asking two follow-up questions for each topic, using such questions as: “How so?” “Please say some more?” “What else?”

Jurors are more willing to help someone who embodies social norms. Attorneys should make their client – plaintiff or defendant – appear as normal as possible.

Jurors may not be receptive to arguments of future wage loss unless the person was horribly injured. Given layoffs, the defense attorney may raise the argument – “How do we know this person would have kept this job, and that these future wage earnings are valid?”

After exposure to headlines about corporate wrongdoing, jurors are more receptive to the idea that people do bad things in their own self-interest. Attorneys should consider conducting a focus group on a day in the life video, but day-in-the-life videos are not right for every case. Some things may be better left to the juror’s imagination.



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