Archive for the ‘Witness Preparation’ Category
Here at KTC our kids are all Millennials (and we happen to be very fond of them), so we’re sensitive to the experience of Millennials being treated like children even though they have, in some cases, been in the workforce for years. Two recent experiences bring the work of the Pew Research Center to mind.
In the first instance, during a recent focus group we asked individual potential mock jurors if they could maintain confidentiality if they found the story particularly interesting (which it was). One young man we had recruited worked in IT support and was clearly bright and articulate. As we questioned him about confidentiality, he blurted out in frustration, “Oh come on! I’m 26 years old” and we both grinned and said, “Oh, well then!” and laughed a bit harder than he probably believed the comment merited.
The next day, I took my car in for warranty work and was waiting in the service area trying to read and blog in what I’d hoped would be a quiet environment. An older woman was making phone calls to multiple volunteers for a community meal of some sort where they would require those bringing food to give the food “an interesting holiday themed name” and repeated the same lines on every call at several decibels louder than she needed to speak. She was behind me and I looked up in frustration several times only to make eye contact and share mutual eye rolls with multiple 20-somethings also obviously trying to get some work done. Finally, one of the young people sharing my tall table with power outlets went over to her and politely (and quietly) asked her to make her calls outdoors as some of us were trying to get work done. The three of us seated at the table all turned and looked at her so she knew it was not just one person making the request.
It is one thing to be in your 50s (or older) and have to ask someone older than you to keep it down in a public shared space. It is another to be in your 20s or early 30s and do the same thing and I admired the courage and assertion of that young woman who spoke up for all of us making meaningful but silent eye contact. Then I thought back to the young man frustrated by our asking him if he could maintain confidentiality (which in truth is something we ask everyone—not just Millennials) when he’d been working for a number of years and had “signed multiple non-disclosure agreements”. He probably was insulted by our laughter and for that, I apologize as well. It just struck both of us as so funny since it was not at all why we were inquiring. Discretion has little to do with chronological age.
According to Pew Research, Millennials are now ages 18 to 34 years but only about 40% of them identify with the label “Millennial generation” and 33% (mostly the older Millennials) consider themselves part of Generation X. And despite the constant media sniping toward Millennials, the Millennials themselves are the most likely generation to identify with negative labels as descriptors for their generation (while Boomers and Silents see themselves most positively). On the other hand, young adults think there is strong evidence of climate change and that we should prioritize development of alternative sources of energy. Oddly, given the Millennial support of climate change and alternative energy sources, there is no difference in how people across different generations describe themselves as environmentally conscious.
It’s a reminder to us that how we see ourselves and how others see us are not necessarily the same. Whether you are 26 or 66—there are more similarities than differences across generations. Some of us are able to maintain confidences and others are not. Some of us are tolerant and others are not (although they may describe themselves as tolerant). Some of us are organized and capable and others are disorganized and yet can still get things done. We find Pew’s work on describing the generations useful as it tells us (over and over again) how similar we all are—regardless of age. Remember that when you are approaching voir dire and jury selection. Know how we are different but also remember how we are the same.
Pew Research Center. 2015. Most Millennials Resist the ‘Millennial’ Label—Generations in a Mirror: How They See Themselves. September 3. http://www.people-press.org/2015/09/03/most-millennials-resist-the-millennial-label/
How about trying this: Make it interesting. Despite stereotypes that older adults may not have the intellectual or memory capabilities to serve as good jurors in complex cases, reaching the older adult juror appears to rely on the same principle we apply to jurors in general: engage them. In fact, some new research says that when they find it interesting—they remember more than younger people do even a week later. In other words, there is really no reason to assume older jurors won’t keep up. If they are curious and you present your case in an interesting way—you will find them invested and engaged as jurors.
Here’s a brief description of the research:
Researchers used 24 older adults (13 female/11 male with an average age of 72.9 years) and 24 younger adults (16 females/8 males with an average age of 20.3 years). The participants were recruited from the Los Angeles area—both in the community and through UCLA. They all had good self-reported health ratings and the ability to repeat a series of numbers from memory (known to psychologists as the Digit Span test) was not significantly different between the younger and older participants.
They were asked to respond to a series of “60 obscure trivia questions”. First they answered the questions and rated how confident they were in their response. Immediately thereafter, they were shown the correct answer for 6 seconds and then rated how interesting they thought it was now that they knew the correct answer. Finally, they were asked how likely they thought it was that they would remember the answer to the question.
After this, the participants were involved in an unrelated task for an hour and then given an unexpected “quiz” on half of the “obscure trivia questions”. After a week, they were contacted by phone and were tested again on the other half of the questions.
What the researchers found was unexpected (at least unexpected if you think the memory of older adults is faulty).
Whether you are young or old, if you find material interesting, your memory for the material is enhanced. (There was no age-related difference in performance on memory for the trivia questions.)
Younger adults scored a little better on the hour delay than they did on the week delay when it came to recalling the answers to the trivia questions. However, for older adults, the effect was reversed. Older adults remembered more on the week after telephone follow-up than they did in the initial hour delay task. (The researchers think this may say something about the importance of being interested in a topic for older adults to retain the information a week later.)
While these were healthy and non-memory-impaired older adults, there was no sign of memory gap between younger and older participants. And in truth, our experience tells us that most older adults with health issues that might impact their ability to see/hear, their energy, attention, fatigue, pain, et cetera, are not shy about discussing them in voir dire if asked.
What that means for litigation advocacy is that memory and recall is likely not a function of the individual juror but the quality (engaging or not) of the case presentation in court. You can not only rely on older jurors to engage and invest (and thus remember), you can rely on them as much (and perhaps more) than you can rely on younger jurors. We have often seen this in our pretrial research. We look for curiosity and involvement in the world today. We’ve had long-retired bankers who were able to explain banking practices to younger jurors who did not believe attorney presentations of fact. We’ve had long-retired teachers and college professors help to organize how a presentation unfolds for maximum understanding. We’ve had a retired African-American male defuse racial tension during mock deliberations with grace and good humor.
Whether a venire member will be an attentive juror isn’t about age, it’s about whether they find the presentation interesting and engaging.
McGillivray, S., Murayama, K., & Castel, A. (2015). Thirst for Knowledge: The Effects of Curiosity and Interest on Memory in Younger and Older Adults. Psychology and Aging DOI: 10.1037/a0039801
We have a new article in the just uploaded new issue of The Jury Expert on lessons we’ve learned from mock jurors in patent and IP cases over the past 15 years. We hope you enjoy it and will go take a look! Here’s how the article begins:
Few types of cases involve more complexity—legal as well as technical—than intellectual property disputes. The nuances are often subtle, the distinctions (“is this code the same as that code?”) virtually impossible to understand without a graduate degree and years of experience. Naturally, jurors don’t have that kind of background, but they are determined to make sense of a dispute that is way over their heads. They want facts, they want testimony that they can trust, but ultimately they aren’t going to judge the case based on a granular understanding the technology. They judge the case with the facts in the background and their values and life experiences in the foreground. And what they have taught us over the last two decades is that what we understand about life’s lessons can guide remarkable understanding. Not only of a patent or a trade secret, but also about what makes society work better, and how values can direct decisions in even the most arcane situations.
We wanted to share some of those lessons–and in each lesson, we link to posts on our blog in the event you wish to learn more. We often find that our mock jurors can speak much more eloquently than we can on how to conduct the best presentations. One of our East Texas patent jurors who described himself (after hearing the first round of evidence in a large mock trial) as a “confused good ol’ East Texas boy” told us:
“I have no trouble judging what’s right and wrong. Just tell me the facts. Don’t sugarcoat it. And I’ll tell you what I think is just.”
That sort of common-sense and straightforward approach is how we typically try to structure case narrative in patent and IP cases. We want to bring the theoretical into practical and relevant lessons that make sense to jurors who have no knowledge of the patent process but have strong beliefs as to what they know is right and wrong. We are indebted to our mock jurors who have shared their decision-making processes with us and we hope they are both interesting and useful to you as well.
A new issue of the Jury Expert just published and it is full of articles worth reading (including one from us!). We hope you will enjoy it and since I edit the publication–please let me know if there is a topic you’d like to see covered in an upcoming issue.
by Alexis Knutson of Tsongas Litigation Consulting, and Edie Greene and Robert Durham (both from University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. For years now, we’ve watched what we used to call the “Google mistrial”–trials being derailed as jurors rushed online to clarify, quell confusion, or demonstrate their superior knowledge to fellow jurors. Now, for the first time anywhere, we have a new 10-question measure to identify those jurors who just will not (by their own report) stay offline while on jury duty. Merrie Jo Pitera, a trial consultant and Mark Bennett, a trial lawyer, respond with thoughts on the new tool.
by Diane Wiley from NJP Litigation Consultants. Discussion of how to minimize the incidence of the “Google mistrial” has often included the idea that perhaps having jurors sign a document that they will stay off the internet (and not read written articles or watch TV news or listen to radio broadcasts relevant to the trial) could perhaps help curb curiosity. Diane summarizes several years worth of discussions and strategies shared by others in this article on use of a “juror pledge” which also contains several sample pledges that could be put into use immediately.
by Adele Mantiply, Michelle Jones and Stanley Brodsky–all from the University of Alabama discuss the experience of schadenfreude in the courtroom. Multiple parties involved in litigation will experience schadenfreude (pleasure at another’s pain or distress)–whether that is a result of a successful cross-exam, a judicial ruling in one’s favor, or a winning verdict against an opponent. Whether it is whooping, shouting, triumphant glares, or quiet pleasure at another’s loss–this article pulls back the curtain to expose this guilty pleasure.
by Alexis Forbes and Will Rountree, both of Bonora Rountree Trial Consulting and Research. As litigation increasingly reflects the global nature of business, increasing numbers of witnesses with limited English proficiency must be prepared to testify in courtrooms across the United States. Here, two trial consultants offer a clear path to education and preparation of the LEP witness since, “sometimes the performance of a single witness can make or break your case”.
Here’s an article by Mykol Hamilton of Centre College and Kate Zephyrhawke of Hillsborough Community College on the most effective structure for questions to elicit juror biases in survey instruments or during voir dire. The authors discuss the ways traditional language fails to elicit the prevalence of bias. Two trial consultants (Charli Morris and Christina Marinakis) respond with their reactions to the work and the authors issue a spirited reply in response.
by Christopher Peters from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro and James Lampinen of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Two researchers explore the idea of allowing jurors to identify the facts of a case they find most important (and therefore want to hear about first) using a card sort technique. Christina Marinakis (a trial consultant) responds with her thoughts on how this tool might be used as an adjunct to more traditional pretrial research.
by Douglas Keene and Rita Handrich of Keene Trial Consulting. This practical article is the result of more than fifteen years of consulting on intellectual property litigation. Cases involving computer hardware and software, industrial processes, mechanical devices, logos and color schemes, tag lines and slogans—jurors have told us what is important to them about disputes involving patents, copyrights, trademarks, and creativity. We share 13 lessons gleaned from pretrial research, all with specific case-related examples of the importance of listening and of translating the esoteric and theoretical in a way that makes sense to everyday people.
by ASTC member trial consultants who travel a lot and pick up habits and tips along the way to help ease the grind. Visit our Road Warrior Tips page for new ideas and to review existing ideas submitted over time by traveling experts.
Squished in the midst of the US holiday season, this issue gives you a plethora of ways to kickstart your brain back into service by giving ideas about identifying “googling” jurors, minimizing that “googling”, guilty pleasures in the courtroom, lessons learned from mock jurors, and the best ways to prepare a limited English-speaking witness, design questionnaire and voir dire questions to elicit accurate responses on juror bias, and how to figure out what jurors want to hear first about your case. Enjoy (while finishing off the last of the leftovers).