Exploring Juror’s Intention-Behavior Gap

Assessing Sympathy in Voir Dire

During jury selection, the overwhelming majority of jurors say that they will put sympathy aside during the trial, then proceed to award high money damages to the plaintiff during deliberations. In post-trial interviews, these jurors commonly admit that sympathy drove their decision-making, despite their earlier assurance that they would put sympathy aside. In reality, jurors who express strong intentions to follow the law often fail to act on them during deliberations because the emotional aspects of the case are overpowering. This scenario is every defense attorney’s nightmare, when even the most thorough voir dire efforts are not enough to prevent sympathy from trumping the law. Read this article to identify and measure juror intention-behavior gaps.