Using Social Science

During the last 20 years, social science methods have become part of successful legal practice.  Initial contributions focused on jury selection.  Recently, emphasis has been placed on how juries interact with themes, facts & evidence.  This chapter describes how social science techniques such as the following are used to support litigation.  Trial simulations are used to prepare for voir dire by pretesting status specific responses to a case.  Community surveys are conducted to link verdict relevant attitudes and juror characteristics.   Surveys also demonstrate pretrial publicity and need for change of venue.  Community analysis through interviews may provide information on community history or potential jurors.  Observation of nonverbal behavior (for example, body language) provides a final opportunity to determine acceptability of jurors.  These methods enhance traditional intuitive approaches.

Farrell, D. & Bunch, W. 2000 Using Social Science Methods to Improve Voir Dire and Jury Selections in Handbook of Jury Research, Walter Abbott and John Batt (eds.), American Legal Institute – American Bar Association, Philadelphia, PA, 4.1-4.15.

Does Age Produce Wisdom . . .

Different generations have different attitudes toward social issues, and attorneys need to be aware of these in making a presentation to a jury.  These differences are not limited to political issues such as the legalization of marijuana, but extend also to matters such as how jurors view financial institutions and the medical profession.
There are also significant different in how the different generations receive and process information.  The experience of Generation X has with computers and with digital medical makes a conventional “stand and Talk” presentation less effective than it would be with older generations.
Attorneys need to adjust their presentation to suit the needs of all of the members of the jury, and be prepared to bridge a generational divide to achieve the best result.

Farrell, D. & Farrell, C. 2009 Does Age Produce Wisdom in Jurors?  Trial Defense Quarterly, October, pp 6-9.*