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    Jury Research Blog

    Mastering Group Voir Dire: Tip 7—Contrasting Important Viewpoints Within the Same Question

    Posted by Jeffrey T. Frederick, Ph.D. on Tue, May 8, 2018 @ 13:05 PM

    May 8, 2018

    Jeffrey T. Frederick, Ph.D.

    Tip 7-1  

              So far, our Tips series has focused on setting the stage for effective voir dire (Tip 1; Tip 2; and Tip 3), capitalizing on open-ended questions to increase our understanding of jurors (Tip 4), avoiding the “looking good” bias (Tip 5), and crafting questions with the “bad” answer in mind (Tip 6). Our next tip addresses asking questions that contrast important positions within the same question. (Click here to see a short video for this tip.)

    Contrasting Viewpoints or Positions

                The primary goal of voir dire and jury selection is to identify potential jurors who have a favorable or unfavorable initial orientation toward your case, ideally based on their beliefs, opinions, and values.  Often the questions asked of jurors in pursuing this goal address a single value, position, or viewpoint.  For example, “How many of you believe that the most important goal of sentencing in our criminal justice system is to punish those convicted of violent crimes?” Addressing a single position or viewpoint in one question has value, but this is not the only way to uncover critical opinions held by jurors. An alternate method is to contrast potentially opposing positions or viewpoints in the preface to the question and then ask jurors to choose which position is closer to their own. Consider the following examples.

                “There are several viewpoints on the importance of various goals in our criminal justice system for the sentencing of those convicted of violent crimes. One view is that the most important goal is to punish those who commit violent crimes.  A second view is that the most important goal is to rehabilitate those who commit such crimes. (It is possible to add other goals here.)  Which of these viewpoints is closer to your view?”

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    Topics: jury research, jury selection, Jeffrey T. Frederick, voir dire, group voir dire, looking good bias, trial consultant, questioning jurors

    ABA Publishing Announces the Release of Two Books on Jury Selection by Jeffrey T. Frederick, Ph.D.

    Posted by Jeffrey T. Frederick, Ph.D. on Tue, Feb 27, 2018 @ 11:02 AM

    February 27, 2018

    Jeffrey T. Frederick, Ph.D.

    ABA Publishing Announces the Release of Two Books on Jury Selection by Jeffrey T. Frederick, Ph.D.

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         The American Bar Association’s Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division announces the publication of two books on jury selection by one of the nation’s most experienced trial consultants. Since Mastering Voir Dire and Jury Selection: Gain an Edge in Questioning and Selecting Your Jury first appeared in 1995, its content has continually evolved, responding to changes in the law, social science research, and developments in jury trials. Its newly revised Fourth Edition includes an extensive discussion of the opportunities and challenges presented by the prevalence of the Internet and social media in jurors’ lives, and the applications of civilian voir dire and jury selection techniques to military courts-martial.  The second book, Mastering Voir Dire and Jury Selection: Supplemental Juror Questionnaires, serves as a companion to the Fourth Edition. The book examines how to develop and use supplemental juror questionnaires and provides supplemental questionnaires used in more than 20 significant criminal and civil trials across the nation.

    Mastering Voir Dire and Jury Selection: Gain an Edge in Questioning and Selecting Your Jury, Fourth Edition

         This much anticipated and expanded fourth edition goes beyond other books on jury selection and focuses on the skills needed to conduct effective voir dire and jury selection, ultimately improving your chances of a favorable verdict at trial. This valuable guide will help you understand effective voir dire and jury selection strategies and adapt them to the unique circumstances you face in your trial jurisdiction.

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    Topics: nonverbal communication, juror questionnaires, social media, social media and jurors, Internet research, agenda jurors, common problems in jury selection, juror misconduct, challenges for cause, peremptory challenges, Batson, individual voir dire, how to ask questions for jurors, jury research, group voir dire, jury selection, Jeffrey T. Frederick, voir dire, trial consultant, questioning jurors, jury honesty

    Mastering Group Voir Dire: Tip 6—Craft Questions With the “Bad” Answer in Mind

    Posted by Jeffrey T. Frederick, Ph.D. on Fri, Feb 9, 2018 @ 09:02 AM

    February 8, 2018

    Jeffrey T. Frederick, Ph.D.

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         So far, our Tips series has focused on setting the stage for effective voir dire (Tip 1; Tip 2; and Tip 3), capitalizing on open-ended questions to increase our understanding of jurors (Tip 4), and avoiding the “looking good” bias (Tip 5). Our next tip addresses potential “bad” answers and how to use them to ask better questions and get better overall results. (Click here to see a short video for this tip.)

    Bad Answers

         Our goal in jury selection is to identify potentially unfavorable jurors whom we need to remove either through challenges for cause or peremptory challenges. The unfavorability of jurors is primarily based on their having opinions and values that would lead them to view your client’s case negatively or, conversely, to view your opponent’s case positively.  While jurors certainly may have had relevant negative experiences or work experiences in areas unfavorable to a client, our attention here is on the jurors’ unfavorable opinions and values themselves.  That is, we look for the unfavorable opinions and values, what we term “bad” answers, as reflected in what jurors tell us during voir dire (or on supplemental juror questionnaires).  The following are a few of the topic areas where “bad” answers are likely found:

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    Topics: jury research, jury selection, Jeffrey T. Frederick, voir dire, group voir dire, looking good bias, trial consultant, jury honesty, questioning jurors

    Mastering Group Voir Dire: Tip 5—Avoid the “Looking Good” Bias

    Posted by Jeffrey T. Frederick, Ph.D. on Tue, Jun 13, 2017 @ 15:06 PM

    June 7, 2017

    Jeffrey T. Frederick, Ph.D.

                The initial tips in our Tips series have focused on setting the stage for effective voir dire (Tip 1; Tip 2; and Tip 3) and capitalizing on open-ended questions (Tip 4) to increase our understanding of jurors.  Now I turn to a major problem in jury selection, the looking good bias, and how to avoid evoking it in jurors. (Click here to see a short video for this tip.)

    Looking Good Bias

                The “looking good” bias (i.e., the socially desirable response bias) is an impression management strategy designed to portray a positive image of oneself to others.  This bias promotes responses that are not true reflections of the individual’s beliefs or experiences, but reflect a desire by the individual to have others think positively of him or her.  In the case of jurors, this looking good bias fosters answers that reflect what jurors think the lawyer wants to hear or what they think are socially acceptable answers designed to create a positive impression of themselves. Obviously, this is exactly what we don’t want jurors to do. The looking good bias is fundamentally different from biases that can arise out of (a) exposure to case information whose influence is unrecognized by jurors or (b) implicit bias that reflects a general bias against a party.

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    Topics: jury research, jury selection, Jeffrey T. Frederick, voir dire, group voir dire, looking good bias, trial consultant, jury honesty, questioning jurors

    Mastering Group Voir Dire: Tip 1—Adopting the Proper Orientation for the Voir Dire Setting

    Posted by Jeffrey T. Frederick, Ph.D. on Thu, Jul 7, 2016 @ 10:07 AM

    July 7, 2016

    Jeffrey T. Frederick, Ph.D.

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         As I mentioned in the introduction to this series on Mastering Group Voir Dire, group voir dire is the most challenging format for questioning jurors and getting them to respond honestly and candidly. The first tip in our series focuses less on the jurors and more on the attorney who is conducting voir dire questioning.  It is the orientation or approach that the attorney takes to the questioning process that sets the tone for voir dire. (Click here to see a short video for this tip.)

         How you approach voir dire goes a long way in determining the ultimate utility of the questioning process.  Will it be one where jurors are responsive, open, and candid?  Will it trigger attempts by jurors to engage in what social scientists call “impression management”—where jurors try to look their best and hide their real feelings? Or will it make jurors defensive, causing them to seek to limit their responses and overall participation? 

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    Topics: Jeffrey T. Frederick, group voir dire, jury research, jury selection, group questioning, trial consultant, voir dire setting, body language and physical orientation

    Announcing the Mastering Group Voir Dire Tips Series

    Posted by Jeffrey T. Frederick, Ph.D. on Mon, Mar 7, 2016 @ 15:03 PM

    March 7, 2016

    Jeffrey T. Frederick, Ph.D.

    Group voir dire is the most challenging format for questioning jurors and getting them to respond honestly and candidly. However, it is not hopeless. Over the course of this year, I will present a series of short tips on how you can conduct group voir dire more effectively and get the most out of this format.  I will address 10 tips using both blog posts and companion short, two-minute videos (check out the introduction here).  The tips will address the following topics:

         Tip 1:  Adopting the Proper Orientation for the Voir Dire Setting.  Whether you are questioning 6, 12, 20, or 40+ potential jurors, your approach to voir dire questioning—your orientation—plays a key role in how effective you will be.  Approaching the questioning process as a job interview, an interrogation, or a conversation determines how the jurors will respond to your questions and how useful their answers will be. Choose wisely—and be confident.

         Tip 2:  Getting Jurors to Talk from the Start.  Voir dire can be an intimidating situation for the attorney—but just think what it is like for the potential juror.  Answering questions, often of a personal nature, in open court, in front of their fellow jurors, the judge, attorneys, and even the media can make anyone nervous and reluctant to talk.  But talk they must if we are to have a useful voir dire.  Using the initial background method of having jurors answer five background questions is one way to help jurors feel more comfortable in speaking at the beginning of voir dire.

         Tip 3:  Capitalize on Initial Hand-Raising.  One of the basic ways jurors provide responses in group questioning is by raising their hands.  While attorneys rely on jurors to raise their hands, jurors are often reluctant to do so.  Using techniques to encourage jurors to raise their hands at the beginning of voir dire (e.g., initial hand-raising) will help jurors feel more comfortable, fostering initial participation and setting the stage for greater participation as voir dire continues.

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    Topics: group voir dire, Jeffrey T. Frederick, juror bias, group questioning

    "I Know You’re Out There . . . How Attorneys Can Conduct Group Voir Dire More Effectively"

    Posted by Gale Burns on Mon, Oct 3, 2011 @ 16:10 PM

    Jeffrey Frederick, October 3, 2011

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    Topics: jury research, Jeffrey Frederick, group voir dire

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