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

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

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

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