OOPS, HOW DO YOU MAKE CHLOROFORM ANYWAY?

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OOPS, HOW DO YOU MAKE CHLOROFORM ANYWAY?

By: Amy Singer PhD., Kristina Denius, JD. & Dan Reyes

It has been five and a half years since a jury found Casey Anthony not guilty of first-degree murder in the death of her three-year-old daughter, Caylee. From the moment little Caylee’s body was found, wrapped tenderly in a blanket in a marshy area not far from her grandparents’ home, there has been much speculation about what happened to cause the toddler’s death. At trial, the Prosecution argued that Caylee was killed when her mother chloroformed her and placed duct tape over her mouth, suffocating her.

Earlier this week, Former Judge Belvin Perry, Jr., who presided over the case, spoke out about what he now believes was the cause of Caylee’s death—an accidental chloroform overdose. With all due respect to Judge Perry, he got half of it right, in that it was an accident. However, not by chloroform overdose. The Defense team has always maintained that this was a tragic accidental drowning. When comparing the Prosecution and Defense differing scenarios, there are compelling reasons the Defense argument simply makes more sense. 

Occam’s Razor posits that the simplest explanation or solution to a problem is usually right. Here are some of the more confusing and complicated aspects of the Prosecution arguments in this case:

The Prosecution presented evidence that Casey Anthony was conducting her own Google investigation into discovering the formula for chloroform. This is a red herring. The truth is, at that time, Casey was concerned (rightly so) about an alarming posting on her boyfriend’s MySpace page proclaiming, “Win her over with Chloroform.” I would be investigating what that meant and what it meant about the person I was dating as well.

Hollywood paints an unrealistic, fantastic picture of how chloroform works. It isn’t as simple as sneaking up behind a targeted person, covering their face with a chloroformed rag, and immediately the prospective victim is rendered unconscious and collapses into a comatose heap.  The Chloroform Theory requires magical thinking about with how easy and simple it is tomake chloroform. There is no simple recipe for creating chloroform wherein a person waves a magic wand and a bucket of chloroform appears. This is not like making chocolate chip cookies out of frozen Pillsbury Cookie Dough. Chloroform is an extremely dangerous, highly toxic compound.  It attacks the nervous system, the respiratory system, the liver and kidneys, and can be deadly to anyone trying to create it. Imagining that a novice like Casey Anthony could effortlessly whip up a batch of chloroform without killing herself or anyone near here is like imagining that she could manufacture Benadryl or methamphetamine in her nonexistent pharmaceutical warehouse.

Speaking of Benadryl, if Casey’s motive in supposedly researching the formula for chloroform was to quiet a boisterous child for a little while, why not drive to the corner pharmacy and pick up some over-the-counter Benadryl or Nyquil and follow thedosing instructions for children under the age of twelve? Why not a tablespoon of whiskey in her sippy cup,  the method favored by some of our grandmothers back in the day?

How do you make chloroform, anyway?

Confused_Chemist.png

The Prosecution made a big deal about the fact that there was chlorine present in George’s car. In fact, there is a very elementary, non-sinister explanation for the presence of chlorine chemicals in George’s car. And, it has nothing to do with Casey placing a chloroform-soaked rag over her daughter’s nose and mouth.  There is no evidence that directly connects Casey to chloroform or any chlorine product for that matter.  The car smelled liked chlorine because when Casey’s father George picked his car up from the impound lot; it had a bag of garbage in it that had been baking in the hot Florida sun for days and had understandably created a terrific stink. George did what anyone would do under those circumstances; he cleaned the car with a strong odor-killing cleaner agent to rid the smell of rotting garbage from his vehicle.

What is the simplest way to explain what happened in this case? In the summertime in Florida, children tragically drown almost every day. When is the last time you heard of a child, or anyone for that matter, dying due to a chloroform overdose? Anywhere?

 As the head Trial Consultant for the Defense in this case, I asked members of the American Society of Trial Consultants Association (ASTC) and my interns, to look over the comments and feedback garnered from the video stream of the trial which included the comments to the trial action in real time.

The experience our team had in and through the Casey Anthony trial spawned what soon became a breakthrough in the Jury Research space.  We created our own patented Wizpor® technology. In the early days, we experimented with Dan Reyes, CEO of Trilogy Trial Consultants on the AV technology. Eventually Trial Consultants, Inc created software for analysis of this qualitative data.  This ground-breaking tool in the area of jury research and the collection of litigation intel on facts, issues, arguments, witnesses etc utilizes any type of participant focus group.

Interestingly, the ASTC members monitoring the video stream of the trial and simultaneous reactions to witnesses, arguments, and testimony found that folks watching the trial were curious about chloroform and started looking it up on Google themselves. They sought information and communicated about chloroform. They were wondering, “How do you make chloroform, anyway?”

What we uncovered was that while there was a great deal of information about the ingredients for chloroform, there was no set formula that could lead a lay person to concoct a chloroform cocktail. They discovered that attempting to make chloroform is not a simple process and is in fact highly dangerous, particularly to the kidneys, and can be deadly simply by inadvertently inhaling the product or spilling it on the skin. Furthermore, they noted, there was no chloroform located in the Anthony household. If the goal was to put Caylee to sleep, than using chloroform would be similar to using a nuclear bomb to swat a fly.

If Casey’s motive in supposedly researching the formula for chloroform was to quiet a boisterous child for a little while, why not drive to the corner pharmacy and pick up some over-the-counter Benadryl or Nyquil and follow thedosing instructions for children under the age of twelve? Why not a tablespoon of whiskey in her sippy cup,  the method favored by some of our grandmothers back in the day?  There are much easier, less dangerous ways to go about this, and all it takes is a few dollars and a trip to the local pharmacy. Ultimately, our analysis mirrored with the same conclusions as the jury in Orlando.

Finally, the camera captures what the camera wants to capture. But what the jurors in the Orlando courtroom were focusing on was Casey’s father George, because his role in this sad case is rather mysterious. The Prosecution Expert asks, “who doesn’t report an accident?” The answer, for whatever reason, is Casey Anthony. The defense maintains that on the day Caylee most likely drowned, George was supposed to be baby-sitting. The only witness to what happened never came forward. In the end, however, the simplest solution screams that it IS the answer. Even the presiding Judge agrees this was an accident. Although, not by chloroform overdose, not by chloroform at all.

 Ask yourself what is more likely, that as Casey and the Defense have been saying all along, there was a tragic accident and a little girl drowned accidentally in a pool on a simmering hot Florida summer day; or that there was some sort of complicated chloroform conspiracy gone terribly awry?  Cut to the chase simply, and Occam’s Razor has the most sensible answer.


For a complimentary case review, please call our main office in Tampa 813.991.6555 or Miami 786.708.1776. You can email your requests to info@TrilogyTrial.com and a member of our staff will respond ASAP.

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Police Shootings Are Not Black And White

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Police Shootings Are Not Black And White

By Amy Singer, Ph.D. and Kristina Denius, JD

The Walter Scott Shooting Trial:  A Trial Consultant’s Observations

Case Facts:
On April 15, 2015, Walter Scott, a 50-year-old unarmed black man, was pulled over by a white police officer, Michael Slager, in North Charleston, SC, for having a broken tail light. During the traffic stop, there was an altercation over the taser.  While trying to flee the scene, Scott was shot five times in the back and killed.   Unbeknownst to Slager, a passing motorist, “sensing there might be trouble” pulled over and started videotaping with his cell phone.  

Jury Bias:
As in the similar Castile case in Minnesota, millions of people viewed the video. There was extensive media coverage and racially charged protests labeling this as a racial incident. Slager’s attorney, Andy Savage, hired a Charlotte based jury consultant to conduct trial research. Charlotte’s Live 5 News introduced the jury consultant in this way.

Focus groups are excellent ways to identify and zero in on the biggest detriments to a client’s case. Once those problem areas have been identified, the attorney can shape his/her case trial strategy with solutions to those problem areas.  In this case, the focus groups revealed that the biggest hurdle Slager had to overcome with the jury is the ‘false narrative’ that this was a racially motivated crime.

Bull, a CBS television series about litigation psychology, explored a similar issue in a recent episode about jury/gender bias. The plot of that episode centered on a female commercial airlines pilot who was involved in a disastrous crash that killed everyone on board but her. In the pre-trial litigation focus groups conducted by Dr. Bull, the participants felt she was at fault for the crash. Dr. Bull ultimately exposed a jury gender bias amongst the participants. When the case was run before a focus group where the jurors were told the pilot was a male, the focus group exonerated the pilot. Dr. Bull then knew that he must overcome this gender bias if there are any hopes for success for his client at trial.  And in typical Bull fashion, he successfully does this.

Juror Perception of the Videotape is the Key to the Case:
The trial began last month. The prosecution immediately presented the cell phone video and as reported by the New York Times, reactions were tense. The prosecution closed their case with a frame-by-frame, slow-motion rendition of the videotape.  Michael Slager testified that the videotape does not accurately portray “the whole story” of the events. He argued that when Scott gained control of the taser, his life was threatened, and he had to keep firing until the threat was over.
 
 The Verdict:
What happened with the taser? Why did Scott run? Why fire eight shots? Would the shooting have occurred if the policeman had known there was a witness videotaping? Did Slager actually plant the taser? How will the jury decide what actually happened here? Does any of this matter?

We just found out that a mistrial was declared.  There was one holdout.  What influenced that one juror to hold out?  Was it this person’s interpretation of the video?  Perceptions based on racial attitudes?  There was one person of color on the jury; do you believe that person was the holdout?


For a complimentary case review, please call our main office in Tampa 813.991.6555 or Miami 786.708.1776. You can email your requests to info@TrilogyTrial.com and a member of our staff will respond ASAP.

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Masters in Trial & Awards Banquet

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Masters in Trial & Awards Banquet

As we pulled into the winding driveway entrance of the Marriott Harbor Beach Resort & Spa, we knew we were in for a special event. This venue is highlighted by a pristine, oceanfront location and provided an ideal venue for the 2015 Florida Chapters of the American Board of Trial Advocates 18th Annual Conference. The hotel provided FLABOTA members and conference guests an opportunity to enjoy an idyllic private beach with 16 waterfront acres. A 22,000-square-foot spa offering a variety of relaxing treatments, a private spa pool and fitness center with ocean views. Three restaurants spanned the resort and when we had downtime from the conference, we were able to dive into the tropical lagoon pool, sip a cocktail under swaying palm trees, and make memories with a variety of water sports and activities on the beach. With over 100,000 total square feet of event space for spectacular meetings, the FLABOTA leadership team and its group of outstanding sponsors were poised to launch a very exciting conference for its members and attendees.

The conference kicked off with an educational program called Masters in Trial. This mock trial featured nationally recognized trial lawyers, a federal judge, and a panel of jurors. The attendees had the pleasure of watching some of the top litigators in the country demonstrate their command and control of an opening statement, plaintiff's examination, direct/cross examination of the plaintiff's engineering expert, defendant's examination, direct/cross examination of the defendant's engineering expert, and closing argument. Their strong oral arguments were supported by evidence and visual aids displayed on 10 foot screen by Trilogy Trial Consultants' on-site Trial Technician. Our team worked closely with each trial lawyer on both sides to effectively present the exhibits in the case to the jury and the audience by deploying the most advanced technology available. With each segment of our mock trial came a valuable learning experience that the attendees could take back with them in their trial practice. To say the least, everyone enjoyed watching elite trial lawyers in action. Working closely with the best in the business was truly an honor and a privilege for our team. 

Additionally, the 18th Annual Conference hosted an Awards Banquet honoring 4 distinguished legal professionals as pictured below from left to right. The Fran Peacock Coker FLABOTA Community Service Award was earned by Steve Rossman. Mr. Rossman has demonstrated the highest standard of ethics and his professionalism has made him one of Florida's most prominent attorneys. Mr. Rossman's single largest commitment has been to Easter Seals, an international non-profit charitable organization that assists more than 1 million children and adults with autism and other disabilities and special needs annually through a network of service sites in the US, Canada, Australia, and Puerto Rico.  

The Joseph P. Milton Professionalism and Civility Award went to Chris Knopik. Mr. Knopik's commitment to this area has been demonstrated by his leadership with the Tampa Bay Chapter by growing the group's Professionalism and Civility Seminar from a small operation to a full day of lectures and presentations by Supreme Court Justices, Scholars, Judges, and Lawyers along with more than 275 attendees a year. Mr. Knopik embodies the character and commitment to the profession. Additionally, to the administration of justice that this award requires. 

The Trial Lawyer of the Year award was earned by Tom Gamba. Mr. Gamba embodies the essential qualities that epitomize ABOTA and FLABOTA's commitment to the preservation of the 7th Amendment and the art of trying a case. Many would say his most important attributes are his superb and impeccable reputation for ethics and fairness in and out of the courtroom. 

Jurist of the Year was earned by the Honorable Jennifer Bailey. Judge Bailey's fairness and knowledge of the law is highly regarded by both the plaintiff and defense bars. She is always prepared and unafraid to make rulings. There is no question that Judge Bailey is passionate about and completely committed to the public's access to the civil justice system. 

To say that the event went well is a massive understatement. It is clear that FLABOTA's work for the preservation of the jury system and to educate the public of its vital importance is second to none. In each member's heart, I felt a desire to elevate the standards of integrity, honor, and courtesy in the legal profession. Their mission to aid in the further education and training of trial lawyers in unparalleled. And last but not least, among every member, our takeaway was an intentional spirit of loyalty, fellowship, and professionalism unlike any I've seen before. 

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Author: Dan Reyes is the President and CEO of Trilogy Trial Consultants, Inc. Mr. Reyes' relentless devotion to jury research, graphic design and legal technology has positioned him to effectively lead his team on every level. Trilogy is routinely retained by law firms and corporate counsel for cases in nearly every area of practice. 


For a complimentary case review, please call our main office in Tampa 813.991.6555 or Miami 786.708.1776. You can email your requests to info@TrilogyTrial.com and a member of our staff will respond ASAP.

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THE POWER OF DISCOVERING THE ARGUMENT TO WHICH THERE IS NO COUNTERARGUMENT

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THE POWER OF DISCOVERING THE ARGUMENT TO WHICH THERE IS NO COUNTERARGUMENT

What is the key to winning a jury trial?  Finding the argument to which there is no counterargument…and making sure the jury understands it clearly.

How many times have you found yourself in an argument with someone, be it a co-worker, a family member, a store clerk, a judge or a fellow attorney? Have you ever noticed when or how the argument ends? It ends when someone provides the argument to which there is no counterargument, when the other person cannot top it off, refute or say “what if” any longer. But how do you find that final, powerful argument which you must provide to a jury?

Your profession is called a law practice for obvious reasons; because it requires practice, research, preparation and problem solving, often trial and error, to arrive at a desired outcome. And then it begins all over again when you take on a new client with a new case with its unique complexities.

So when you take on a case, you surely conduct research and attempt to find all there is to know about the facts during discovery. However, many attorneys dismiss the dire next step: conduct research to find what are the pivotal juror’s perceptions of the facts, issues and what presentation strategies will have the widest latitude of acceptance. In other words, don’t sing opera to folks that want to hear country music.

Once you discover what does not work (through a carefully controlled experimental design), the next step is to discover what will work. How is this accomplished?

Firstly, we need to think outside of the box. We need to come up with the “universe” of arguments that reframe the evidence and the testimony. How do you know that you have a wide enough sample of opinions to your (counter) arguments? The answer is once you get repetitions and hear “nothing new” during your focus group, you have reached the point of gathering all the reactions to your argument. Now we go to the testing phase.  Is there a comeback to your argument? If the answer is no, you are done. However, if folks still have objections see step 1 and repeat.

Let us give you an example: In a medical malpractice case, the plaintiff argues that the defendant doctor failed to do a differential diagnosis. Obviously, the defendant uses the hindsight defense. What is the argument for which there is no counterargument? In medicine, as in life, when in doubt, check it out.  What is the counterargument to that?

Why is this powerful? If a jury has no counterargument to the pivot points of your case, they must surrender.

Obviously with this type of focus group, the more minds the merrier. There is power in numbers both in terms of brainstorming (don’t forget focus group participants is the best resource for this) and opinions.

Once you realize your sample is not about the demographics of the participants, but rather you are gathering samples of opinions, you are on your way to effective and potent persuasion research.


For a complimentary case review, please call our main office in Tampa 813.991.6555 or Miami 786.708.1776. You can email your requests to info@TrilogyTrial.com and a member of our staff will respond ASAP.

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PRESENTING TO THE JURY: CLIENTS DELAY IN SEEKING TREATMENT FOR DAMAGES

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PRESENTING TO THE JURY: CLIENTS DELAY IN SEEKING TREATMENT FOR DAMAGES

It is not uncommon in personal injury cases for the injured individual to delay seeking medical treatment after an incident. Why is that?  The fact is that injured persons often do not experience symptoms of injury at the time of an incident, however much later, an injury related to the incident emerges. We refer to such injuries as “latent” injuries, an injury in which the onset of symptoms is delayed. As an attorney, you must be able to recognize that jurors will most likely have an uninformed response, most likely negative, to the concept of latent injuries.
  
Voir dire in a latent injury case is a process, not merely a series of questions. We have found six effective stages in increasing jurors’ latitude of accepting reasons why clients delay seeking damages. These stages facilitate the transformation of potential juror mindsets. Of course there will always be the ones who remain unaccepting of the delay in seeing a doctor. For those, we provide you with a technique to eliminate them for cause.

1. The first and foremost stage is to assess juror response to the concept of latent injuries, and to internally indoctrinate the legitimacy of such injuries. 

2. After this foundation is established, the next is step is to relate their life experiences to the notion of causation.

3. The next step is to facilitate understanding and acceptance, from their own cognitive schemata, of legitimate reasons why people delay seeking medical treatment following an accident.

4. After addressing delays in treatment, explain the concept of “stoicism,” and assess whether or not potential jurors will attribute blame to the client for the delay, or even punishing the victim taking time to seek treatment.

5. Subsequently, you must identify tort reformers and non-believers to eliminate them for cause.

6. Finally, persuade the potential jurors that the client simply cannot manage their pain any longer, and that when an injury manifests so slowly, it takes time for the injured to comes to realize it.
We have found it to be imperative that all of these stages are administered in voir dire for latent injury cases. Let us now explore these stages at a more detailed level.
 
Response to Injury Latency

It is imperative that you explain to potential jurors that latent onset injuries do exist. In fact, latent onset injuries are recognized in medical literature to a great extent. [1],[2] Despite this, jurors are often predisposed to be skeptical of the nature of these injuries, as they are unfamiliar with the fact that some injuries can appear years after an incident. For example, a concussion after a collision can manifest at a very subtle rate, with somewhat unassuming symptoms developing much later, such as sleep disturbances,[3] which can be left ignored by a stoic individual who is experiencing this symptom. That individual might say, “Oh, I have a lot on my mind, so I can’t sleep that well” or “That collision happened some time ago, I’ll be fine.”
The insight that these injuries do in fact occur has to come from the juror. For example you would ask, “how many of you have had injuries or illnesses that were dormant for a length of time?” The jurors will then answer. For example one might respond, “i broke a finger and now i have developed arthritis.” Now let’s say that this juror did not go to the doctor when his or her finger was broken, perhaps at the time asserting, “there is really nothing significantly wrong here, so why should I go?” Further, let’s say that the finger does not heal, and the doctor says that the injury stayed dormant. Reinforce this experience and encourage others to respond. Note that it is important to establish that every member of the panel has had a loved one, close friend or they, themselves, have experience dormancy. A theme has now emerged: Dormancy.
 
Juror Life Experiences

Jurors use their own life experiences to make decisions; therefore, they must be given examples that relate to those experiences, as to what they believe causes an injury. This is how you get them to understand the issue of causation. Relating back to the example of the broken finger, ask jurors, “How did the injured know that they broke their finger, causing arthritis?” There must be a causal link established between the incident and the latent injury and you have to single out any additional factors that can be argued that caused the injury. Therefore the only plausible explanation would be that the latent injury was caused from the incident. Ask jurors, “How do you decide what causes something? What evidence do you use to decide causation?”
 
Why Wait?

What are the reasons why the injured wait to seek treatment? First of all, sometimes the injury goes undetected even upon examination by a medical professional.[4]  Second of all, and also the most prominent reason, is the stoicism of the individual. When one inquires with the injured as to why the he or she waited to go doctor after the incident, he or she will most likely respond, “I didn’t think there was really anything wrong with me.” Juror attitudes toward stoicism regarding medical treatment is a critical issue. As an attorney, you must identify those on the panel that wait to treat injuries, and those on the panel who go for treatment right away. It is important to identify the jurors that have a punishment-oriented frame of mind toward a person experiencing a latent-onset injury who did not even think there was anything wrong with themselves in the first place.
 
Punishment for Stoicism

To elaborate on punishment for stoicism, should the injured be punished for being stoic? The injured are experiencing a delayed-onset injury, and at the time of the incident, simply did not think there is anything wrong. Further, if they know they are injured, they likely will not believe that they are injured severely enough to go to hospital. This is where the suspicion comes from with jurors. The jurors will think that this person has a new injury, unrelated to the alleged injury at hand, and is looking to be compensated. In addition, jurors might believe that the injured simply wants/needs money and is now claiming a latent injury to better his or her current financial situation. Ask jurors, “How many of you think people should be stoic by not making a large deal about the injury?” and ask, “For the injured client who is being ‘doctor latent’, as in a person who waits to see the doctor, would you punish them? Why or why not?”
 
Identify with Jurors

You must identify the client with the potential jurors. For example, a clever way to broach the topic is to lead with, “My client believed in tort reform until…” Many lawyers present with, “What is interesting is that my client did not believe in lawsuits until…”  Potential jurors will be affected by this approach because by presenting these questions, you are essentially aiming to have tort reform jurors identify with your client. You do not want jurors on your panel who do not have the ability to perceive and consider the client as an “individual difference[5]”, or  those who will be generalizing him as money seeking or unethical “like all of the rest.” You will be able to identify the jurors that who have a mindset transformation and will be able to consider the client’s individual circumstance.

Introduce that and then ask, “How many of you know someone who is stoic and believes there are too many lawsuits?” and “How many of you know someone who might say, ‘I would not make mountain out of mole hill?’” Then respond by saying, “That’s my client.”

Additional questions to ask include, “How many of you believe that there are too many lawsuits? Why or why not?” and “How many of you believe that this is a “sue-happy” society? Why do you think and feel this way?” and “Do you think that lawsuits harm you in any way? Why or why not? Do you think they help you in any way? Why or why not?” and “Will you punish someone for having a high pain tolerance? Why?” Also include, “Without hearing any evidence, if you were to hear that the client experienced a latent injury, how many of you simply will not find in his/her favor?” Follow up with cause questions, for example, “How long have you felt that way? Are you not likely to change your mind?” If they can’t, they can’t and that is fine. “How many of you agree/disagree? Why?” The ones who agree must go for cause.

The final knock out punch is ”Before hearing any evidence, how many of you believe that you cannot determine what caused the injury or that it is related to a past event?”  Follow up with your cause questions. 
 
Dissipation of Endurance

Often latent injury victims are in so much pain that they have difficulty enduring the discomfort. Though the injury started out as undetected, slowly over time it transformed to full-on pain.  The concept is similar domestic abuse. In the beginning of the relationship, the abuse is so subtle that the victim does not realize its presence. The abuse happens ever so slowly and increases in a way that it takes him or her much time to realize the effect that it has had on the victim’s life. It is not until much later that the victim comes to realize it. Now take that analogy and apply it to latent injuries. It could take a year or more to understand that one had an injury or that the extent of the injury has become much more serious. After this, the attorney should go for cause. Ask questions such as, “How many of you believe there is no such thing as a person with a severe injury who could be stoic without hearing any evidence? How long have you felt this way?”  And “Is there anything that could change your mind or reconsider?”
 
More on Cause

In addition to the six stages, it is important that we further address elimination for cause. To aid in eliminating jurors for cause, we have found it most effective to ask closed-ended questions. Here is why: if we are certain that a potential juror is not our advocate, by asking closed-ended yes/no questions we are not allowing that individual the opportunity for further engagement. If given an open-ended question, that individual might seemingly rectify his or her ability to be impartial, and thus impair our strategy to strike for cause.
It is essential to employ the following closed-ended incantations, tailored to your case. For example, “How many of you believe that a neck injury cannot manifest itself a week or even longer than after an incident?” and “How many of you believe that if someone is hurt, they will feel it right away?” and “Do you feel strongly about your beliefs?” and “Are you not likely to change your mind?” and “So does this mean we are not starting out even?” At this point, the attorney should tell the venire member “I appreciate your honesty.” Then ask, “By a show of hands, how many of you agree with what this person just said and you will not be able to put your feelings aside?”  It is essential to employ all of these incantations.
 
Conclusion

The theme throughout the process of presenting jurors with the concept of latent injuries is “dormancy.” We have found that the trajectory of understanding latent injuries is not mutually exclusive and exhaustive. Dormancy is integrated throughout the model presented, and must be demonstrated systematically, as personal experience, skepticism and lack of education on the topic can ultimately decide the verdict.  Without convincing jurors that latent injuries do exist, and without the incorporation of juror insight, you are essentially spinning your wheels.

Establishing a causal link for the accident and the injury deeply seats the concept of dormancy. If you do not establish a cause, dissecting the latent injury into a plausible situation, it will seem as if you are making a “leap” and you will lose credibility.

Unfortunately, some of the jurors will fall back on their skeptical disposition when they have to try to understand “doctor latency” and why the injured waited to seek damages. This will bleed into the notion of “sue happy” or greed. However, the identification of these individuals will lead you to identify tort reformers. Then go in for cause by asking closed-ended questions. When we eliminate for cause, the theme of dormancy will remain within your panel.


For a complimentary case review, please call our main office in Tampa 813.991.6555 or Miami 786.708.1776. You can email your requests to info@TrilogyTrial.com and a member of our staff will respond ASAP.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17161292
[2] http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/554963_4
[3] http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/concussion/basics/symptoms/con-20019272
[4] Hoffman, D., Adams, E. & Bianchi, S. (2015) Ultrasonography of Fractures in Sports Medicine. British Journal of Sports Medicine; 49:152-160.
[5] Tyler, L. E. (1965). The psychology of human differences (3rd ed). New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts/Prentice-Hall.

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Online focus groups: A technological solution to traditional focus group challenges

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Online focus groups: A technological solution to traditional focus group challenges

Until recently, traditional face-to-face focus groups have been the obvious and most widely used method in conducting research.  However, like anything else, face-to-face focus groups have their challenges. For example, traditional focus groups can be expensive, require extensive travel and often involve small samples so outcomes can be limited in generalization. In addition, some individuals might be introverted and others reluctant to express their true opinions because of embarrassment or fear of group disapproval. It can also be difficult fulfilling the opposition prone sample that you need. Fortunately technology has provided a solution to many problems associated with traditional focus groups by changing the location in which they are conducted: online.

Have you ever ran into any of the aforementioned issues while conducting research using traditional focus groups? Here is some food for thought:

  • Is the sample that you need, a group that is difficult to bring together in one venue?
  • Is your trial in a jurisdiction that requires extensive travel?
  • Does your case involve a sensitive topic that live jurors might be reluctant to provide true opinions?
  • Is participant travel a problem?
  • Do you have a limited focus group budget?

If you answered “yes” to some of these, then conducting an online focus group may be your best approach!

Online Alternative

Focus groups have historically been used for marketing  research but in the past 40 years they have also been used for case research and trial preparation. These days, online focus groups are being used in lieu of traditional face to face focus groups for qualitative and quantitative feedback for several reasons. To name a few, online focus groups liberate researchers from geographical restraints, better accommodates busy schedules, and minimizes cost.  Wizpor® virtual focus group methodology is designed in a way that allows attorneys to obtain detailed mock juror feedback from a large audience quickly, effectively and inexpensively.

Audience Gathering

Wizpor® audience gathering, allows you to recruit a hand-picked audience that reflects an authentic jury. For example, a stay at home parent might find it difficult to attend a live focus group for the sake of childcare, but is willing to participate online from home. People with physical disabilities could be less likely to participate in a traditional face-to-face focus group because it might be difficult for them to travel, but having the option of participating online might entice them to take part. Of course if selected for jury duty, people from of these demographics would find a way to attend, but might not find a mock trial worthwhile to attend in person given the amount of compensation and the need to commute. In addition, traditional focus groups are limited in the number of participants they can hold, whereas conducting focus groups online allows for an unlimited number of participants.  A larger group yields a larger response sample.

Response Quality

Most importantly, the content of Wizpor® feedback is more detailed and less filtered.  In online spaces, people become even more expressive because they know that they cannot be seen.

In addition, jurors do not have to “wait their turn,” as they have the freedom of spontaneous expression and multiple people can type and submit comments at the same time. Moreover, jurors can express their thoughts even when arbitrators are giving their opening statements, or as a witness is responding to a question.

People are not as candid in face to face focus groups. Wizpor® is anonymous, which encourages open, direct, detailed feedback where jurors tell us exactly what they think, feel and where they are unclear.  In addition, Wizpor® provides quick results, as a transcript is immediately available for analysis, even during the session.

Cost and Convenience

Those who regularly conduct traditional face-to-face focus groups are well aware of how expensive, time consuming and taxing it can be, given the required travel involved for both you and the participants. Online focus groups saves an attorney money, time, and travel. In addition, online focus groups allows for a diverse means of payment to your participants. Jurors can be awarded participation “points” per study that can be traded for gift cards. This type of payment system allows the attorney to pay participants less, yet the participants are satisfied. In addition, an online focus group knows no geographic barriers. This online method allows an attorney to conduct a focus group from their own office and obtain responses from jurors in their trial’s jurisdiction, even if it is across the country.

Options

Of course no one method is perfect. Online focus groups have their own drawbacks, although different than traditional focus groups. It can be difficult to gauge strong emotional reactions online and visual participant interaction is unavailable. Some attorneys may find the absence of a physical audience problematic and need the face-to-face interaction with mock jurors, as it more closely resembles a courtroom dynamic. Obviously it is quite different to speak to a group of people than to speak to a camera or computer screen.

Online focus groups do not have to be a complete substitute for traditional focus groups. Wizpor® allows for the option of conducting a SimulJury® in which both focus group methods are conducted simultaneously.

Conclusion

Online focus groups are undeniably changing and enhancing the way that litigation consultants obtain qualitative juror feedback, and the benefits are substantial. That doesn’t mean that an attorney has to give up traditional focus groups altogether. With Wizpor®, the attorney has the freedom to customize his or her services, yet still save money. Perhaps this will allow you to conduct focus groups on a greater amount of cases and provide that added value to your clients. Have you used on-line focus groups? Were they helpful? Please share your experiences.

If you haven’t, why not?


For a complimentary case review, please call our main office in Tampa 813.991.6555 or Miami 786.708.1776. You can email your requests to info@TrilogyTrial.com and a member of our staff will respond ASAP.

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A Guide to Preparing Your Expert Witness for Direct Examination

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A Guide to Preparing Your Expert Witness for Direct Examination

Obviously, direct examinations are important because they are the only way to tell our story and thereby persuade the trier of fact of the rightness of our position. (1)  As once told to Robert Sullivan and Bob Langdon by a successful trial lawyer: “An expert is not going to win your case for you, but he sure can lose it.” (2) I asked the leading experts, attorneys and consultants in the country to tell me what tips they have for preparing your expert for direct examination.Here is what they told me: There are five main aspects to focus on when preparing your expert witness for direct examination:

1-  Giving: What will you give them?

2-  Getting: What you must get from your expert, in order for her or him to be effective.

3-  Seeing: What does the jury need to see while your witness is testifying?

4-  Listening: What does the jury need to hear to understand your side?

5-  Story telling: Good lawyers are master story tellers. Great lawyers make their experts sound like master story tellers.

GIVING

Here is what you give your expert to prepare him or her. I call this the “expert’s tool box”:

  • Give your witness a clear idea of your goals and a clear understanding of what you need and why you selected them. Let them know what you need them to say, within the confines of the truth, of course, and what information can be damaging and therefore should be avoided. (3)

  • Cross examine your own witness on the stand. This takes the wind out of your opponent’s sail and gives your expert an opportunity to explain those issues that can be easily misinterpreted.

  • Prepare your witness as much as possible and make sure they have reviewed all the materials in their file. Do not assume they will do this on their own. (4)

  • Teach your witness the “magic words” or legal standard he or she needs to testify to. For example, in a personal injury case the expert must testify with “a reasonable degree of medical certainty.” (5) It is also imperative for your witness to understand the difference between medical causation and legal causation. (6) Other key words include probability vs. possibility, reasonable certainty, unreasonably dangerous, standard of care, defect, among many others. (7)

  • Create an outline for testimony and stick to the sequence of questions you have outlined for your witness. (8) The last thing you want to do is throw your witness off.

  • Make sure that you review the entire contents of your expert’s file with them to avoid any potential impeachment evidence. (9)

  • Organized file folders with tabs so experts can go directly where they need to and avoid stumbling around. (10)


GETTING

The expert witness is called that for a reason.  Here is what you must get from your expert in order to present your case in a successful manner:

  • Give your experts an opportunity to reveal their weaknesses. Most attorneys research their expert witnesses before preparing them for trial. Of course, you want to make sure they do not have a history of being vulnerable to attack from the other side. However, be careful not to miss an opportunity to learn about your witness’ other strengths and weakness by going directly to the source.  After you have gained your expert’s trust, ask them point blank: What are your weaknesses? If they tell you they don’t have any, get another expert (give them the boot). Once they reveal their own vulnerabilities you can deal with them together. (11) Address any potential problem ahead of time, not right before the witness is going on the stand. (4) More on this when we review the general tips.

  • Make sure you know everything about a potential expert witness prior to hiring them. Ask them about his or her prior experiences, if he or she knows your opponent, if he or she has testified for your opponent, if he or she have written any papers or articles that contradict the opinion they are giving you. (12)  You can find an expert for pretty much any issue in your case – the problem is you often do. (2)

  • The truth. First and foremost, your expert must be truthful. The truth is always consistent. Jurors like consistency. (13) Jurors look for inconsistencies and when they find them, they are unforgiving.

  • Listen carefully…and wait until the entire question is asked. (13)

  • Answer only the question that was asked. (13)

  • Have your witness provide you with a list of questions they need you to ask in order to provide the information necessary for a complete and accurate explanation.  I call this “playing Jeopardy!®” with your witness; Once you have established what the jury needs to hear, give your expert the answers and ask him or her what the question is. Use those questions in court.


SEEING

As we all know, a picture is worth a thousand words. It will not hurt for your expert witness to have access to demonstrative aids. Knowledge can only be imparted by seeing. Language by itself is meaningless since language is nothing more than symbols. In order for the jury to “know” they need to see what the expert is trying to teach them. Jurors will not find for what they do not understand:

  • Bridge the knowledge gap by use of visual aids and analogies. (2)

  • Set some time aside to work with your witness and graphic design consultant to create compelling presentations and exhibits for them to use in court.  Use graphics, electronic trial presentation, media, animations, and illustrations to ensure testimonial variety during the presentation to obtain greater attention and focused explanation of his or her opinion. (14)

  • It is imperative for your expert witness to face the jury and look them in the eye when answering your questions. The jury members are the ones who need answers in order to make a decision on your case. This is so simple, yet so influential. (15)

  • Provide compelling side by side visuals comparing what a product should have done and what a defective product did. (17)

  • Use a combination of high tech electronic presentation and low tech display boards. (1) Make sure all documents are legible.

  • In court, stand in a place where the jury can see both your witness and the visual aids they are using. (1)

  • Make sure your expert witness dresses appropriately and cleans up before going to testify, if necessary. “The best prepared expert limits their value as a direct witness with an off-putting personality; a disheveled appearance; an excessively sweaty brow; an irritating cough; or a voice akin to the proverbial nails on the chalkboard.    In the attorney’s quest to find the most qualified and least expensive expert, the attorney should be mindful of the personal demeanor of the expert.”   (16) Ultimately, you want the most qualified expert at a fair cost. Do not forfeit dollars to earn pennies. (17)


LISTENING

Jurors will listen to your expert and evaluate his or her credibility. What does the jury need to hear and how do they need to hear it? You should coach your witness to speak in a way that is appealing to jurors. Make sure your witness can answer the questions, “Why am I here?” and “Why are we right?”Jurors will hear everything but you want them to listen to the key information:

  • Teach, don’t preach. (18)

  • Give juror’s the reader’s digest version. (18)

  • Jurors appreciate concise and organized presentations – make sure your expert can give one. (19) An electronic presentation will help reinforce what your expert says with what the jurors see on the projection screen. (17)

  • Encourage your expert to sprinkle in information about his or her accomplishments throughout the examination.  This will give your witness more credibility. (11)

  • Jurors are more likely to believe your witness if they are saying “this sounds like common sense.” (20) One of the best ways to simplify complex concepts is by explaining them through the use of analogies and providing effective demonstrative aids so your jurors can visualize the concept. (17)


STORY TELLING

Half the fun of listening to a good story is becoming engaged in the presentation.

  • Engage your jurors (students) by explaining all your basic premises before moving on to advanced concepts.  Show your work in writing, smile and be engaging. (21)

  • Focus on three main ideas, as that seems to be what most people can store easily in their memory box.  Suggest that your expert let the jury know when to focus on a point by starting his or her sentence with “this is important” and then using a visual aid to drive the message across. (2)

  • Make sure your expert witness’ testimony fits into the story you are telling the jurors.

  • Ensure your witness understands that they are one piece in the “large jig-saw puzzle of the trial”. (22) However, make sure they understand the entire case.

  • Ensure your witness presents her or his opinion in context that corroborates persuasiveness of the issue. (14)

  • Ensure your expert witness’ testimony weaves in the theme of your case. (23)

  • Set the stage for jurors by giving your witness a good introduction.

  • Tell the story to alert jurors – preferably in the morning.


GENERAL TIPS

When you have multiple expert witnesses testifying, lead with your best punch. Your first witness should be strong, as they will give an overview of what facts jurors need to understand in order to arrive at a favorable decision.The key is for your expert to always explain the “why” to show jurors: why we are right. Role play with them as if you are the host and they are the guest in a television interview. Ask them to teach you everything you need to know. (24)  Let the witness prepare you. (25)  Play clips of opposing expert’s deposition and ask your expert if they agree or disagree. This way you are able to cross examine their expert through direct exam of your expert and take the wind out of their sail by asking your expert the “why “question. (26)  Instruct your expert witness on how to answer complex questions. For example, as lawyers you know the difference between subjective and objective findings but the jury may not, so don’t be afraid to follow with, “What is the difference between subjective and objective, Doctor?”  (10) The Kabbalah of litigation teaches us that words are just symbols; your expert should use analogies to explain complex concepts. Another option is to follow expert Doug Carner’s advice:“Ever since I began providing extremely detailed written reports, every case has been dismissed or settled without requiring my testimony. With over a 1,000 cases under my belt, this has been a huge cost savings for my clients and time savings for the courts. This has the added benefit of increasing my revenue since I make more money in the lab than I do in testimony.” (27)  Finally, remind your witness to bring all their materials with them and make sure your witness is willing and able to stay at the courthouse for as long as necessary.  (12)


For a complimentary case review, please call our main office in Tampa 813.991.6555 or Miami 786.708.1776. You can email your requests to info@TrilogyTrial.com and a member of our staff will respond ASAP.

 Bibliography

1. Russell S. Jones, Esq. Top 10 Things to Know about Persuasive Direct Examination. [Online] (2012). http://dritoday.org/feature.aspx?id=306&goback=%2Egde_4032205_member_103653073.

2. Robert Sullivan, Esq. and Bob Langdon, Esq. Developing Memorable Expert Testimony. [Online] (2008). http://www.smctriallawyers.com/documents/articles/Trial.Article_.10_.08_.pdf.

3. Nora Rousso, Esq.

4. Stephen Sambol, Esq.

5. Jeffrey Lapin, Esq.

6. Barry Snyder, Esq.

7. Ed Van Dorn, Esq.

8. Jack Murray, Expert.

9. Thomas Nielsen, Esq.

10. Wayne Partenheimer, Esq.

11. Stuart Ollanik, Esq.

12. David O’Dea, Esq.

13. Irwin Kramer, Esq. Ten Tips for Testimony: Preparing for the Witness Stand. [Online] (2010). [Cited: ] http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/ten-tips-for-testimony-preparing-for-the-witness-stand.

14. Howard Franco, Esq.

15. Fatima Ismail, Consultant.

16. Brian L. Sirota, Esq.

17. Dan Reyes, Trial Consultant & Litigation Support Expert

18. Daniel Schneck, Professor. Virginia Tech.

19. Scott Redman, Esq.

20. Stanley Curbo, Consultant.

21. Chuck Bailey, Esq.

22. Bill Ruskin, Esq.

23. Jeffrey Rollins, Esq.

24. Mary Wolverton, Esq.

25. Bonnie Orden, Esq.

26. Jim Kamanski, Esq.

27. Doug Carner, Expert.

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Cuing Positive Memory Recall With Jurors

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Cuing Positive Memory Recall With Jurors

Hypnotists, behavioral modification counselors, specialists in neurolinguistic programming, and similar professionals are knowledgeable about, and employ, various highly powerful psychological techniques to convince, persuade, and influence others. Some of these techniques are directly applicable for use with jurors. They are remarkably potent because they operate on the jurors’ subconscious mental processes(1). One of the most effective of these techniques is a process known as “anchoring.”

Attorneys can use “anchoring” to get jurors to react positively on cue to an unspoken message. The procedure involves the use of a specific gesture (a positive behavioral anchor) simultaneously with a verbal “message” for the purposes of classically conditioning the jurors (i.e., establishing the famous Pavlovian response).

In most cases it is best to anchor the pivotal point of the case in order to make the strongest possible impression on jurors. For discussion purposes let’s assume that the case’s pivotal point hinges on the fact that four different witnesses have placed the murder trial defendant in a different state at the time the killing took place. The attorney should anchor this fact every time he mentions it with a clear and unmistakable gesture - e.g., grasping the chin thoughtfully or straightening a tie. Doing this repeatedly associates the gesture with the pivotal point “message” until the gesture stimulus alone will retrieve the memory.

After the stimulus-response mechanism has been adequately established, the attorney need only perform the gesture stimulus to immediately trigger subconscious positive responses among the individual jurors concerning the pivotal point.

This conditioning technique establishes, in effect, an altered state of consciousness(2) among the jurors that is very much like hypnosis. The jurors’ concentration will become focused largely on the case’s pivotal point, to the exclusion of much else. This altered state of consciousness among the individual jurors allays and to some extent even replaces the anxiety states usually associated with such jurors. Since these anxiety states almost always derive from the customary confusion of the jurors concerning the differing trial arguments, the benefit to the attorney of eliminating such confusion is substantial.

The knowledgeable attorney can anchor the case’s pivotal point in another effective way. This is done by always mentioning the point from the same physical spot in the courtroom. This spot should be located next to the flag, the judge’s bench, or to any other well-established symbol of authority that is available. In this manner the attorney can create a powerful and positive association in the minds of the jurors regarding the pivotal point of the case and the symbol of authority.

Attorneys need to understand that classic conditioning is not at all a pseudo-scientific or bogus activity. It is rather a proven and widely-used behavioral modification technique that is guaranteed to work if done correctly. It will not work, however, if the stimulus is extinguished or over-generalized. To prevent extinction, the pivotal point “message” must always be paired with the gesture stimulus. If the attorney mentions the pivotal point without making the accompanying gesture stimulus, the association will become extinguished, and the stimulus will no longer have the desired cuing effect with the jurors.

This extinction will also take place if the gesture is overdone. The attorney should employ the gesture stimulus only on a selective basis – when he or she wants the jurors to get in touch with their subconscious predilections concerning the pivotal point. (It is useful, for example, to employ the gesture stimulus at the most critical point during opposing counsel’s closing argument.)

Classically conditioning the case’s pivotal point in this manner is an excellent way for the attorney to develop a subtle but extremely powerful edge with the jurors throughout the entire trial.

Footnotes

(1) Influencing a person’s subconscious is always far more powerful than influencing his or her conscious level of perception. As the renowned scholar and author Joseph Campbell has pointed out, consciousness is a secondary organ that, on a more basic level, must subordinate and serve the body, and the more basic body functions, including the subconscious.

(2) There is no mystery to hypnosis and similar altered states of consciousness. They simply make use of a natural, physical state commonly experienced at various times, such as while listening to music, running, or driving.


For a complimentary case review, please call our main office in Tampa 813.991.6555 or Miami 786.708.1776. You can email your requests to info@TrilogyTrial.com and a member of our staff will respond ASAP.

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Perfect Presentations Your Jurors Will Fall In Love With (Part 4)

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Perfect Presentations Your Jurors Will Fall In Love With (Part 4)

In last week's blog entry, we discussed software, preparing exhibits, and working with Trial Consultants. In our 4th and final installment of this series, we'll continue to discuss highly effective ways to implement electronic presentation into your case.

Tips for Trial Presentation

If you're a novice to electronic presentation or have been going at it alone, get your technology feet wet by using it on a small case, arbitration, or mediation. As the saying goes, practice does make perfect. Have your Hot Seat Operator speak to you about the limitations and capabilities of the software. Allow time for the jury to absorb the information. Take advantage of the bells and whistles at your disposal but don't lose sight of the collective goal. Remember: The jury isn’t as familiar with the case as you are. Work out the communication between the presenting attorney and the courtroom technologist. Make sure you have two of everything. If you’re on an out-of-town trial, make sure that there are contingency plans in place in the unlikely event that you have a system crash. 

When retaining Trilogy Trial Consultants for your upcoming mediation and/or trial, the following 14 point list details what you can expect from our team:  

1.  Assist clients in pre-trial preparation, including database creation and maintenance

2.  Provide assistance with presenting electronic and demonstrative evidence using well established trial presentation software

3.  Coordinate data -- video, documents and demonstrative evidence -- in proper locations to ensure ease of use, search and retrieval

4.  Help paralegals, attorneys, and expert witnesses understand what presentation techniques work best at trial

5.  Schedule equipment setup and tear-down with court officials

6.  Provide oversight in determining what equipment package will be needed during trial

7.  Ensure equipment locations for lines of sight, lighting and audio are satisfactory

8.  Work with expert witnesses so that our design team can produce quality exhibits

9.  Provide complete technical support for presentation systems and technology

10.  Manage the preparation, creation, and modification of exhibits

11.  Provide on-site video and audio editing

12.  Produce professional quality presentations

13.  Produce trial and witness notebooks

14.  Prepared with on-site copying, printing, scanning

Practice Makes Perfect

Rehearse your opening statement and closing argument with your Trial Consultant until you are completely in sync. Develop and memorize your naming conventions and any special terminology related to the case. Since one of the primary advantages of electronic presentation is the ability to quickly react to changing circumstances, daily trial reviews in the war room allow you to respond to events in an effective manner.

It is imperative to do test runs using the same setup that will be prepared in the courtroom. Confidently presented information conveys additional legitimacy. Leaving a lasting impact with your jurors is what is important in the courtroom. Practicing with your Trial Technologist will ensure that the jury is not dozing off during your oral arguments.

Conclusion

Experienced litigators know that winning even simple cases requires preparation to effectively bring the jury to the point where they understand their client’s point of view. Solid electronic trial presentation may appear simple and seamless in the courtroom, but in the background, it takes a lot of preparation, skills, and problem solving abilities to achieve the collective goal – a winning presentation.


For a complimentary case review, please call our main office in Tampa 813.991.6555 or Miami 786.708.1776. You can email your requests to info@TrilogyTrial.com and a member of our staff will respond ASAP.

[This concludes our 4 part series on Perfect Presentations That Your Jury Will Fall In Love With] 

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Perfect Presentations Your Jurors Will Fall In Love With [Part 3]

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Perfect Presentations Your Jurors Will Fall In Love With [Part 3]

In last week's blog entry, we discussed the courtroom and the Situation Room. In our 3rd installment, we'll continue to discuss highly effective ways to implement electronic presentation into your case preparation and execution throughout your trial.

Software:  The trial presentation computer should always include a full copy of your case data, including the evidence management software used to build the database. In addition, you’ll need access to additional tools and/or people to build and/or modify custom exhibits.

For simple courtroom presentations, a generic presentation tool like Microsoft PowerPoint® is sufficient. The advantage of PowerPoint is that many people are familiar with it, so working with it is relatively easy. PowerPoint® lends itself well to canned presentations. Using PowerPoint®, it is possible to display an array of embedded programs like data tables or videos. However, PowerPoint® displays it’s weakness during trial when flexibility and the need to turn on a dime is paramount. Modifying a Powerpoint® presentation on-the-fly can be awkward. In addition, retrieving a slide out of sequence can be cumbersome and prove to be a distraction especially when the goal is to have a smooth, seamless presentation. There are other features that it lacks like easy zooming on specific parts of a document that is very important when trying to drive home a theme to your jury.

Dedicated trial software seeks to overcome the limitations of programs like PowerPoint®. Trial presentation software is designed to display a variety of different formats at the same time, so the programs are optimized to meet the specific needs of litigators. For example, you can display a deposition video with scrolling transcript text while simultaneously displaying related exhibits. Using software specifically developed for use in the courtroom, you can work from a prepared presentation yet seamlessly adapt as the trial develops. Numerous tools in the application allow you to quickly locate and extract impeaching testimony from video depositions and/or recall and highlight exhibits. Some trial presentation programs give you the ability to keep track of the admission status of the trial exhibits. The key value with these tools is their adaptability, the capability to immediately respond to changing conditions in the courtroom, to easily recall just the information you need, exactly when you need it. A technologist who is experienced with trial presentation software can make a critical difference when courtroom conditions change. And many would argue have one of the toughest jobs in the courtroom.

Preparing Your Exhibits:  Just about anything can be electronically displayed to your jurors, witness and judge during the electronic presentation including but not limited to documents, photos, transcripts, reenactments, video depositions, expert testimony, animations, and custom exhibits. To take advantage of the technology, video depositions should be encoded and synchronized with the transcript so that clips can be created prior to and during trial. These tools become invaluable when you cross examine a witness and impeach him/her with their own testimony from a previous video deposition. Need to educate a jury on a point of biomechanics? Consider retaining a college professor to do a five-minute video demonstration. An advantage to this kind of presentation is that it can be recalled readily at any time to emphasize a point or refresh the jury’s recollection. Determine how you want to present your case visually. Do you need to recreate the scene of an accident by using a 3D animation? Do you need to simplify complicated engineering schematics? Or are you simply focusing on the specific language documented in a commercial contract? In cases when you need detailed and specific imagery, you may want to employ the use of a graphic designer or illustrator to prepare your exhibits. If one good picture is worth a thousand words, how much might a good animation be worth? 3D animations and other demonstrative aids will work well inside of the trial presentation software and have proven to be great way to connect with your jury.

Effectively Working with Trial Consultants:  Trial consultants are specialists with extensive knowledge of every facet of the trial process including jury selection, witness preparation and presentation technology. One of the essential questions you should ask yourself is “When do I need a trial consultant?” Trial lawyers must consider that consultants can assist you before, during, and after a trial. A seasoned, sharp trial consultant can help you prepare witnesses, plan your presentation strategy, organize your trial binders and present your case electronically at trial. If you are a beginner or you prefer to go at it alone, a trial consultant may be a prudent safety net. Since trial consultants are frequently in the courtroom, they are very familiar with creating an effective electronic presentation and interacting with the court’s staff on technology issues. Do you have a case set for trial that has significant damages or exposure? The decision to use an experienced trial consultant in that instance is an absolute no-brainer. You do not want to risk the presentation of electronic evidence in such a high-pressure situation to a staff member or yourself. You have oral arguments to focus on and trying to manage this process could prove to be a stumbling block.

When it comes time to decide who to use, you’ll want to confirm experience, knowledge, and references. Speak with them on the phone. Setup a face to face meeting. This isn’t the time to gamble. Thoroughly interview candidate consultants to determine what they know, how they present themselves and their company, extent of their involvement in trials, equipment currently using, and with whom they’ve worked. All trial consultants are not created equal. Investigate the depth of their experience so that you make sure that the consultant you select is a good match for your case and your firm.

 [This concludes part 3 of this series. In the next installment, we’ll conclude this series by discussing tips and practice.] 


For a complimentary case review, please call our main office in Tampa 813.991.6555 or Miami 786.708.1776. You can email your requests to info@TrilogyTrial.com and a member of our staff will respond ASAP.

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Perfect Presentations Your Jurors Will Fall In Love With  [Part 2]

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Perfect Presentations Your Jurors Will Fall In Love With [Part 2]

In last week's blog entry, we discussed the foundations of trial presentation, right and wrong times to use it, and the most important part of this process, the Hot Seat Operator. In our 2nd installment, we'll continue to discuss highly effective ways to implement trial presentation into your case preparation and execution throughout your trial. 

The Courtroom: Something else to consider is the courtroom itself. Some courtrooms are configured for electronic presentation while others are not. However, we've found that in many cases, the equipment setup in the courtroom isn't always dependable and up to date. You may need to provide the hardware components of the presentation including but not limited to laptops, backup systems, monitors, pro grade projector, quality projection screen, pro audio, wiring, cables, adapters, printer, copier, scanner, and networking to name a few. You won’t need to purchase all of this expensive hardware as there are equipment rental options in the marketplace. The issue then becomes being able to effectively run the software and troubleshoot glitches as they happen. Another issue to consider is ensuring that the hardware blends well throughout the courtroom so that it does not become a distraction. Or even worse, cables not being secured properly could present a safety concern as well. Equally as important is to notify your intention to utilize electronic trial presentation with the presiding judge. It’s important to get the Court’s position on the use of this technology in the courtroom so if a concern is raised, you can address them in advance of trial. 

The Situation Room: A critical component to your success when using trial presentation technology is a war room. This is especially important when you are new to the use of electronic trial presentation. You’ll want to do numerous dry runs of your presentation so you can get accustomed to the look and feel of the exhibits as they are pulled up during your opening statement, direct examinations, and closing argument. Use the War Room as your opportunity to practice your pitch. 

An ideal war room is setup to be a mirror match of the courtroom from a technological standpoint. It should be a place where the trial team can comfortably practice, gather exhibits, and prepare witnesses the night before you put them on the stand. Backup systems are important should your laptop turn up with the blue screen of death. This is why having contingency plans in place are essential. Keeping in mind that any updates made to the database as a function of changes made during the trial are all updated on the primary system, backup system and back up hard drives. Make sure that any limitations of the courtroom are matched in the war room. Is there a room in the courthouse that can be used for mid-trial tasks? Can you set up printing, copying and Internet capability there? Can the room be locked to prevent a would be thief from taking home your very expensive equipment? You may want 24/7  access to your war room, so the courthouse really isn’t your best choice. When working out of town, the war room should be as close to the courthouse as practical. Your best bet is to reserve a room that can be dedicated as your war room throughout the trial. We have had favorable experiences with hotel management making the necessary accommodations for us so we can have a room dedicated to around the clock trial prep. 

The Equipment: As it relates to identifying the ideal hardware configuration for supporting electronic trial presentation, a “One Size Fits All” approach will not work. Not only do hardware capabilities change on a frequent basis, but courtroom presentation technology continues to rapidly advance. Also, the needs of your trial team will likely vary from case to case. As a general rule, lots of money is spent on what we call “CentCom”. This is of course is named after one the world renowned U.S. Central Command at MacDill AFB in Tampa. Very fast processers, truckloads of RAM, and high powered graphics cards should be on deck when it’s time to operate the presentation. The result will be a faster, sharper display of documents, videos and exhibits, especially when you work with large case files. One must also keep in mind that trial equipment should be upgraded on a regular basis. What was top of the line 3 years ago could qualify for entry into the Smithsonian Institute for Antique Computer Machinery in today’s standards. 

Another consideration is that the Hot Seat Operator must run dual monitors at CentCom. If this isn’t happening, you’ve got a problem on your hands. This allows the presentation technologist to keep the presentation running on a dedicated screen while using the other monitor for other tasks like uploading new exhibits, on-the-fly changes to existing exhibits, and editing video depositions to reflect the Court’s rulings on admissibility or to be in compliance with agreed upon designations by both sides.  

It’s also important make sure the contents in your database are backed up frequently should something go awry. Your presentation is likely to be contained on a single computer, typically a laptop. What would happen if the computer were dropped, damaged or stolen?  This is why your Hot Seat Operator should have an external hard drive with enough storage space to keep your entire case file backed up. Such drives are about the size of a Samsung phablet. All it takes is plugging the hard drive into your backup laptop, upload your case along with any updates that were not already backed up and you’re back in business. I can’t stress enough the importance of having a contingency plan in place in the event Murphy’s Law kicks in. And trust me, it will.

[This concludes part 2 of this series. In the next installment, we’ll discuss software, preparing exhibits, and more.] 


For a complimentary case review, please call our main office in Tampa 813.991.6555 or Miami 786.708.1776. You can email your requests to info@TrilogyTrial.com and a member of our staff will respond ASAP.

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Perfect Presentations Your Jurors Will Fall In Love With  [Part 1]

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Perfect Presentations Your Jurors Will Fall In Love With [Part 1]

The foundations of trials have remained the same for centuries, but the effects of the technology revolution on the practice of law over the past decade are indisputable. This is nowhere more apparent than in forensic evidence identification, case management, and courtroom presentation. While forensic advancements such as digital surveillance, DNA sequencing, and 3D forensic facial reconstruction have rightly grabbed the public’s attention, computer-driven technologies have had a significant impact on the effectiveness and ease of trial presentation. 

While not yet as ubiquitous as a quality cup of caffeinated coffee in Seattle, the steady momentum of presentation technology being used in the courtroom is rising at rapid pace. As it stands, law firms of every size retaining the services of a trial consultant enjoy a competitive advantage. Soon, it will be as obligatory as your Android or Apple mobile device.

So what do you need to know about presentation technology to make it work for your firm and clients? In this series of blog posts, I’ll share insights that my team and I have learned and practiced being in the hot seat in courtrooms nationwide.

Right and Wrong Times to use Electronic Trial Presentation

An impact wrench is a necessary tool in the toolbox of any master auto tech but he does not need it to repair every single car that comes into the shop. Same thought applies with presentation technology. You simply don’t need it every case. Generally speaking, simple family and bankruptcy law cases don’t need presentation technology. However, cases in which a jury is required to visualize a scenario, product or procedure are excellent candidates for presentation technology. Trial presentation technology also provides an effective tool for comparing documents, photographs, issues and decisions. For simple lists of facts or numbers, you may want to consider having your Trial Consultant create trial boards to mix up the media for the jury to keep them on their toes. 

If this is your first time utilizing presentation technology, consider using it in an arbitration or mediation. These proceedings provide an opportune environment to develop a presentation style that works harmoniously with the on-site Trial Technician/Hot Seat Operator. If no settlement is reached, you’ll already have a run through of Electronic Trial Presentation under your belt which will undoubtedly help you as you prepare for doing the same in trial.

Needs List for Electronic Trial Presentation

The foundation of any courtroom presentation includes having the right people and protocols in place.

Trial Technician aka Hot Seat Operator: Trial presentation technology is a tool. And like any tool, it is only as good as the person wielding it. Handing someone a Barrett .50 Cal Sniper Rifle doesn’t make him an expert marksman. In the same breath, placing an unseasoned person in the hot seat is more than likely going to blow up in your face.

 It’s highly recommended that lead counsel or co-counsel do not run the electronic presentation. We’ve seen this happen too many times and it usually doesn’t end well. If you decide to roll the dice and utilize an in-house person such as a paralegal or an associate for the role of the Trial Technician, make sure that they are highly trained on all of the presentation tools that the software has to offer. In addition, this person must be allotted plenty of time ahead of the proceedings to review and do numerous practice runs on every piece of evidence in the case file which, as you know, could be a very tall mountain to climb. In fact, we’ve been involved in cases where the total number of documents and exhibits exceeded 1 million in number. Can you say Mount Everest? You’ll also want to consider that the individual you select to be run your courtroom presentation will more than likely not be available to do anything else for you beyond the arduous task of ensuring that your presentation goes flawlessly.

In addition to your Hot Seat Operator, have someone available to support the technology infrastructure in the event a glitch occurs. In many instances, the Hot Seat Operator and the infrastructure support may be provided by the same person. This is important when Murphy’s Law kicks in and your Hot Seat Operator can troubleshoot and take care of technical issues without any of the parties being aware of it.

 There are some things in life that taking the DIY approach works for. Our position is that if you’re taking a case to trial, your case merits the use of a trial presentation expert. Having an in-house staff member “wing it” is a risky proposition that you may not want to gamble with. This is where trial presentation consultants are invaluable. A battle tested Hot Seat Operator can manage your presentation needs on many levels including but not limited to setting up the equipment, trouble shooting technical issues, running the presentation while the attorney is presenting their oral arguments, creating custom demonstrative aids, and being your shadow juror. The consultant’s depth of expertise allows you to focus on the trial and not be concerned with the logistics of the deployment.

[This concludes part 1 of this series. In the next installment of this series of blogs, we’ll discuss the venue, trial prep, and hardware.] 


For a complimentary case review, please call our main office in Tampa 813.991.6555 or Miami 786.708.1776. You can email your requests to info@TrilogyTrial.com and a member of our staff will respond ASAP.

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Trilogy Expands to South Florida

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Trilogy Expands to South Florida

Trilogy Trial Consultants, a trial consulting and litigation support company based in the Tampa Bay area, today announced the opening of a new office in Miami, FL. This expansion allows Trilogy to meet increasing demand for solutions and services from law firms, corporations and government agencies nationwide.  Trilogy's Miami office will be managed by a new member of the company’s leadership team, Cintia Calevoso, Esq.  This expansion will enable the company to accommodate its clients more effectively.  Ms. Calevoso is a recognized leader in trial consulting and civil litigation.  She has routinely been involved in matters including but not limited to business transactions, entertainment law, intellectual property and complex commercial litigation.

“We’re incredibly excited about the potential for this new office,” said Cintia Calevoso, the company’s newest addition to a well balanced leadership team.  "This new office demonstrates our ever-expanding focus on providing an unparalleled level of service to our clients throughout the U.S." said Cintia Calevoso.  However, our vision doesn't end domestically. In collaboration with Ms. Calevoso, the company's future plans include leveraging her experience in Central and South America to target key international markets to deploy the company's services to the law firms and corporations engaged in civil litigation. Our growth business model has positioned us to be able to take on the additional work that international clients would require.  We thrive on challenges and achieving goals. It's clear that the focus, passion, and work ethic of our team is proving to yield positive results for our company and our clients. 


To contact Trilogy Trial Consultants, Inc, submit your requests to info@TrilogyTrial.com. To submit your interest in a career opportunity with Trilogy Trial Consultants, send us your cover letter and resume to info@TrilogyTrial.com

About Trilogy Trial Consultants

Trilogy Trial Consultants supports the nation's leading law firms, corporate counsel and government agencies. Our clients include litigators from nearly every area of practice. Our seasoned team of litigation consultants, psychologists, attorneys, sociologists, graphic designers, 3d animators, medical illustrators, videographers, photographers and experienced courtroom Trial Technicians offers a comprehensive approach to preparing for and trying cases that has consistently yielded favorable results. For more info about Trilogy, visit us online at www.TrilogyTrial.com

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Jury Returns Verdict for $12.6 Million

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Jury Returns Verdict for $12.6 Million

TRILOGY ASSISTS FL LAW FIRM IN CASE WHERE JURY RETURNED VERDICT FOR $12.6 MILLION

After 6 1/2 hours of deliberations, an Escambia County jury awarded Jerry M. Hendrix and his wife Verna $12.6 million dollars.  The case arose out of an automobile accident that occurred in Pensacola, FL on 2/23/11. On that day, Jerry Hendrix was severely injured when an industrial truck owned by Burford's Tree Surgeons, an Alabama based company, turned in front of his vehicle while he was traveling to work. The truck violated Mr. Hendrix's right-of-way and caused a head-on collision. However, the defense attorneys alleged that Mr. Hendrix was not wearing a seat belt and that his injuries were primarily caused by his own negligence in failing to wear a seat belt. The jury rejected that argument. The jury found that the Defendant was 85% at fault for Plaintiff's injuries. Our Director of Trial Consulting, Dr. Amy Singer and I assisted the law firm during the trial preparation phase by utilizing an innovative method of conducting jury research called SimulJury®. The case was tried by attorneys Troy Rafferty, Fred Levin and Aaron Watson of the Levin Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Rafferty & Proctor law firm in Pensacola, FL. The Defendants were represented by attorneys Millard Fretland of Pensacola, FL, and Jeff Luther of Mobile, Alabama. Circuit Judge Ed Nickinson presided. 


For a complimentary case review, please call our Tampa office 813.991.6555 or Miami 786.708.1776. You can email your requests to info@TrilogyTrial.com and a member of our staff will respond ASAP. 

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