The Psychology of Voir Dire

How many times have you debriefed jurors after they rendered their verdict and been surprised by what they told you? In particular, how many times have you had to smile and maintain your composure as jurors tell you about something that played a major role forming the verdict and you thought that factor was practically irrelevant?

I had that kind of experience in the very first focus group I conducted as a trial consultant. This was a criminal case in which aggravated assault had been alleged. I set up the focus group the way I was trained. When the focus group members arrived, they were given two documents. One document was a summary of the case from the point of view of the prosecution.

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Using Self-Efficacy for Witness Preparation

The store manager decided to service the air conditioning units on the roof during the day. This is normally done at night because water leaks from the condensing units, drip down to the ceiling, and land just about anywhere on the slick, tile floor in the store. This creates a risk for customers to slip and fall and that is just what happened to Mr. Simon, the plaintiff you represent.

It is hard to imagine a better case. The manager did not follow store policy. The store itself is part of a nationwide chain. The store employees made statements to EMS that the store was at fault. Someone was even using the video recorder on her smart phone and has a digital recording of Mr. Simon’s slip and fall.

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Expert Punishment Testimony in a Sex Trial

The genius of Winston Churchill is as manifold as it is undisputed. With the hope of having some of Mr. Churchill’s genius rub off onto this discussion, I would like to use his quote as a jumping off point to discuss sentencing issues in a sex offender case.

I believe that sentencing the sex offender is a riddle wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma because a satisfactory answer, which is comprehensive and fair, cannot be found. This is true whether you are an attorney for the defense or an attorney for the State.

Let’s unpackage Mr. Churchill’s proclamation as it applies to sentencing in a sex offender trial. At the heart of the sex offender sentencing issue is a riddle. Actually, there are two riddles. Let’s begin with the first riddle.

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