Unobvious Sources Impacting Witness Performance and Jury Response - Part 2

CSI - Courtroom Sciences Inc


Sources affecting witness performance and jury response are likely to be as varied as the individuals filling those roles. Yet, it’s critical for trial attorneys to accurately identify and then effectively control and mitigate these factors in order to see the best possible outcomes and avoid errors that could devastate their cases. 

Social factors, implicit biases, non-verbal communication, personal issues, and pre-existing emotions are significant to both witnesses and jurors as they can frequently have unintended consequences impacting performance, perceptions, and decision-making abilities. These ramifications could be far-reaching, potentially resulting in a nuclear verdict or settlement.  

Even some sources that may appear to be more common on the surface, such as anxiety, could impact a witness or juror in a less obvious way, impacting individuals both mentally and physically. Courtroom Sciences knows that a well-built case can fall to pieces with a single ineffective witness, disproportionately impacting settlement and trial outcomes. As part of the legal team, Courtroom Sciences can help trial attorneys secure positive outcomes through focused witness effectiveness training and science-backed data.

 

What could impact the jury response that I haven't thought of?

Although trial attorneys have been using demographics such as age, gender, socio-economic status, and occupation to pick jurors for many years, they are simply not predictive of juror behavior and decision-making. Instead, what most influences how jurors will evaluate a case are juror attitudes, beliefs, experiences, and personality traits. Understanding these deeper characteristics requires a more scientific approach to voir dire. Courtroom Sciences’ scientific approach to research strategies delivers invaluable insights, eliminating guesswork and avoiding nuclear outcomes. 


Unobvious Sources Affecting Jury Response 

Although it is a jury’s duty to decide a case based solely on the evidence presented, jurors are exposed daily to various forms of nonverbal communication from a wide variety of courtroom participants. Trial attorneys should be mindful of how these signals could influence the deliberation of a jury. This non-testimonial information could include a witness's attire or a defense attorney's body language. By recognizing the different types of non-verbal communication jurors absorb, trial attorneys can better optimize their own presentation. 

Implicit biases are another unobvious source that can immeasurably affect a juror's response. While individuals holding an explicit bias against a particular group are aware of their bias and willingly self-report the bias, implicit bias is often an unconscious prejudice, one that they do not admit to openly and therefore can be more challenging to identify. For example, these implicit biases may be directed towards a client’s perceived culture or religion

Although implicit biases operate at an unconscious level, they are just as influential in a juror's decision-making as an explicit bias, influencing how a juror recalls and interprets the information presented to them, and ultimately how they determine the outcome of a case. The challenge for trial attorneys is how to identify potential jurors who hold these hidden biases. Courtroom Sciences helps trial attorneys apply a psychometric methodology to fully assess juror profiles in voir dire, allowing them to compose the optimal jury.


Unobvious Sources Affecting Witness Performance 

As witnesses anticipate their deposition and testimony, they are particularly susceptible to experiencing increased stress, uncertainty, and other symptoms of psychological distress. Witnesses may be concerned with:

●  making a mistake 

●  embarrassing themselves or looking incompetent

●  losing their job

●  letting people down

●  revealing personal information

While some of these fears, such as making a mistake, may stem from a lack of understanding and familiarity with the litigation process, others, like fear of embarrassing themselves, may stem from a more general fear of public speaking. In addition to these concerns, witnesses may simultaneously be experiencing a range of intense emotions, such as fear, anger, guilt, or insecurity, which all have the potential to mentally wear down witnesses at deposition and during a jury trial.

These fears and anxieties have the potential to affect both the cognitive performance of the witness as well as lead to physical reactions such as shortness of breath or stomach distress, which may also affect overall performance. Taken in combination, a witness may appear confused, flustered, or unpredictable. This kind of emotionality can not only inhibit defense counsel from effectively defending the case but also create dangerous economic vulnerabilities. 

The importance of these unobvious sources and their impact on jury response and witness performance should not be underestimated. Both witnesses and jurors may be severely affected by a wide range of sources, causing them to be at risk for cognitive fatigue, as well as struggling with significantly impaired attention and concentration. Courtroom Sciences can help trial attorneys secure positive outcomes through focused witness effectiveness training and science-backed data. Speak with one of our experts to get started. 


Key Takeaways

●  Both witnesses and jurors may be severely affected by a wide range of sources, impacting jury response and witness performance. 

●  Some of the unobvious sources impacting jury response could be implicit biases and nonverbal communication. 

●  Witness performance may be affected by increased stress, uncertainty, and other symptoms of psychological distress.

●  Courtroom Sciences' methodical litigation approach leads to predictive results and favorable outcomes. 

Juror Confirmation Bias


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