Tag Archives: legal

What the Zimmerman Trial Teaches us about Decision-Making in America

zimmerman

by Thomas M. O’Toole, Ph.D.

Zimmermania is a national debate I’ve worked hard to stay clear of. Our fine mass media pundits have wrapped it so tightly in divisive opinions, leaving no speculative stone unturned in the process, that there is little to add. However, one important takeaway about the general state of American decision-making seems to have gone largely unnoticed. Millions of Americans have readily formed strong opinions about this case, rendering their own personal verdicts, despite having little in the way of actual facts about it.

Some folks may have followed the media coverage of the trial more closely than others, but media coverage is hardly reliable (Really KTVU? You really thought the Asiana Airlines pilot name was Sum Ting Wong?). The fact is, none of the millions of folks who have flooded news media comments sections and message boards or huddled around the office water cooler were at the trial. They did not hear the actual charges that were brought, the jury instructions related to those charges, and the evidence and testimony presented by each side on those charges. But if there’s one thing we Americans can be proud of, it’s that we refuse to let ignorance get in our way. Sure, we could educate ourselves and dig through the complexities of the law and evidence in the Zimmerman trial, but it’s so much easier to read those sexy CNN headlines or watch a three-minute segment on the case. For me, it’s like watching the NBA. Watching a game is not nearly as enjoyable as listening to Charles Barkley rant a bunch of provocative, albeit incoherent at times, commentary over the game.  Continue reading

Up in the Air: Jurors’ Perspectives of the Government’s Lawsuit Blocking the Merger Between American Airlines and US Airways

american_air

By Thomas M. O’Toole, Ph.D.

The United States Justice Department and six states recently filed an antitrust lawsuit in federal court seeking to block a merger between American Airlines and US Airways. The Justice Department argues the merger would reduce competition and drive up costs for consumers, noting the deal would result in 80% of the air travel in America being controlled by only four carriers.

While several analysts suggest a trial is unlikely, this case raises some interesting questions about how to effectively defend against antitrust claims in front of a jury. Let’s look at the story structure put forth by the government and explore the ways in which the airlines can make inroads and motivate jurors to advocate for them in deliberations.  Continue reading