Jur-E Bulletin: January 26, 2018


Pennsylvania’s Mock Trial Competition

In the January/February 2018 edition of The Pennsylvania Lawyer there was an article titled The Benefits of Participation in the Mock Trial Competition. The article describes a competition put on by the Young Lawyers Division of the Pennsylvania Bar. Thousands of high school students participate statewide and the winner in state gets to participate in the National High School Mock Trial Championship. This is a well written article worth reading.

Jury Management Workshop

During this 2 1/2 day workshop on March 14-16, 2018 at the Ceremonial Courtroom in the Civil Courts Building in St. Louis, MO, participants will learn about best practices to improve the efficiency and cost effectiveness of jury operations, to ensure the integrity of the jury selection process, and to treat jurors with dignity and respect.

Ms. Paula Hannaford-Agor, Director of the NCSC Center for Jury Studies, teaches court managers and jury managers to:

  • Identify strengths and weaknesses in jury operations
  • Estimate the operational and fiscal impact of poor performance
  • Implement policies and procedures to prevent or respond to legal challenges to the jury system
  • Use tools, performance measures, and best practices to address problems

For more information, click here

Blair County Moves to Debit Cards for Juror Pay

The Altoona Mirror reported on January 23, 2018 that Blair County, PA has begun using debit cards to pay jurors. Controller A.C. Stickel said, “The county pays 49 cents for every card that we load, but that cost is offset by the 15 hours of staff time that we’re saving.” The court is using CourtFunds debit cards which is a product offered by Rapid Financial Solutions.

Editor’s note: Other courts have had difficult using debit cards because they had fees that kicked in after 90-120 days. Those fees conflicted with state law or policy.

Jurors Show their Bias?

The Inquirer reported on January 19, 2017 that a clerk for Philadelphia’s Civil Court at City Hall asked if anyone was interested in singing the Philadelphia Eagles fight song. One person agreed, took the microphone and sang the song. Several other prospective jurors joined in towards the end of the song.

The Psychology of Jury Decision Making

In the most recent edition of Voir Dire, there is an article titled The Psychology of Jury Decision Making which begins on page 30. The article describes the kinds of biases that jurors naturally have when appear for jury service.  For example, the author describes “defensive attribution” as follows: 

A subset of the fundamental attribution error is Defensive Attribution. This is a cognitive bias we use to protect ourselves from the fear that a negative event that happened to someone else would happen to us. When we hear about a tragic outcome, we want to psychologically distance ourselves from the belief that we could befall a similar fate. How do we do that? We focus on the actions, motivations and behavior of the victim as opposed to the circumstances. We say, “If I were in that situation I would have checked my mirrors, crossed the street, notified HR, etc.” The more similar we are to the person who has experienced the bad event, or the more likely it is that we could find ourselves in similar circumstances, the more likely we are to engage in defensive attribution.

This is an interesting article that is written for trial attorneys and is designed to help them better sculpt their questions and arguments to compensate for the described biases.  However, the article is well written and will be of interest to anyone that is interested in human behavior.   

Upcoming Events

January 26, 2018

Jur-E Bulletin is a publication of the Center for Jury Studies.

Editor: Greg Hurley

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