Tag Archives: jury consulting

Roger Goodell, the NFL, and the Importance of Central Facts

By Thomas M. O’Toole, Ph.D.

The current NFL scandal surrounding Ray Rice and his wife, and the numerous subsequent incidents with other players (i.e. Greg Hardy, Adrian Peterson, etc.), offers a perfect example of the problem with the “storytelling” advice that pervades the jury consulting industry these days. In many respects, the story for the NFL was strong. It had all the components of apology that scholars recommend for corporate scandals. It indicated that change was imminent. In short, it was a good story and everyone probably (understandably) felt good about themselves when the team developed the story in some conference room somewhere.

The NFL is a lot like many corporate defendants. As Gregg Easterbrook argued in a piece for ESPN, the public has been waiting for an opportunity to criticize the NFL due to its arrogance in recent years, and the NFL had no reserve of goodwill to help it through the situation. Corporate defendants are similarly situated. Large portions of the American public have strong, negative opinions of corporations and their actions. When a corporation is named as a defendant in a lawsuit, there is rarely a reserve of goodwill at trial that softens the critical orientation of jurors. This poses a significant burden on the corporation as we have seen with the NFL. Continue reading

Does That Sound Like Something You Might Be Interested In? The Dial Gimmick and Jury Research

DialsmithHandsBy Thomas M. O’Toole, Ph.D.

The weird house at the end of the street…everyone had one as a child. It was usually occupied by some odd person who kept to him or herself. It was always ripe for gossip amongst the neighborhood kids and even some of the adults. Didn’t someone die in that house? Was it murder? I heard the owner performs odd rituals in the basement every Tuesday night.

The unknown always produces some form of hysteria born out of intrigue, fear, hatred, or other emotions. It’s one of those defining characteristics of human psychology. It takes control out of our hands, which we generally do not like. Consequently, we are desperate to find certainty where it does not exist, with the strategies for doing so ranging from reasonable to ridiculous…anything that gives one a sense of control over things. Continue reading