Traumatic national events, like the COVID-19 pandemic elicit a broad range of emotions in potential jurors. Jurors, like all of us, worry about the safety of our family and loved ones, keeping jobs, the state of the economy, or the stress of taking on new family and educational responsibilities. Recently, we have conducted some national survey research and the data demonstrates that the pandemic has heightened many latent juror attitudes about the government, corporations, and many other institutions and business. These stressors and biases combine to create a mix of emotions that potential jurors bring into the courtroom. Overwhelmingly, and not surprisingly, research on emotion and affective states demonstrates that people bring their emotional baggage with them when making decisions and passing judgements, even if they consciously realize their anger or sadness is extrinsic to the decision they are making. It’s simply human nature. Continue reading →
I, like most of you, have probably been having some difficult conversations lately. The most difficult, though, are not just steeped in real ideological differences, but in the ways in which the issues are being framed. For years, there have been a debates and differences of opinion about what “Black Lives Matter” and the “Take a Knee” movement truly mean. The framing of those phrases and movements likely moves someone in one particular direction over another. This past week, another phrase has come about that is doing the same thing: “defund the police.” Continue reading →
This week, I had the privilege of being interviewed by Above the Law about the research we have been conducting on how the pandemic impacts the jury pool and jury decision-making in general. Our findings have significant implications for trial scheduling and strategy development, making this episode well worth the listen. However, this only scratches the surface on the data that we have collected. We hope to publish more and more findings as we work through the data analysis in the coming weeks.
Mock jurors sit at least six feet apart with masks and other health and safety measures in place.
By Jill D. Schmid, Ph.D.
It was awesome to get back to conducting in-person mock trial research this past weekend! While things looked a bit different, it still checked off all the boxes for a successful project and, as always, we gained some incredibly important insights that will help us prepare for trial. Part of the reason this project was so important is because so many attorneys are wondering if mock trial research is even possible in the coming months. The answer is a resounding yes and, most important, there are a variety of ways to conduct the research while protecting the health and safety of everyone involved. This is important because, while so many in our industry were quick to put into the place the ability to conduct online mock trials, the reality is that online mock trials simply do not live up to the real thing and many attorneys understandably do not want to go that route. Here are some specifics about our project this past weekend to give you a very clear picture of how these can be fielded in the coming months: Continue reading →