Defendants are often advised not to take the stand because they can be cross-examined by a professional whose job it is to make them look guilty. Under the Fifth Amendment, the defendant has an absolute right not to testify at trial, just as he or she has a right to give evidence on his or her own behalf if they choose to. But from a jury psychology standpoint, jurors typically

There will be some “letter of the rule” jurors versus “spirit of the rule” jurors.  Some will think that Freddie Gray should have been buckled into a seatbelt per Baltimore Police Order and that right there is enough inaction to find wrongdoing.  Others will say it wasn’t practical and virtually no suspects were buckled in, and Porter was just rightfully doing his job when confronting Freddie Gray. Some extra-legal factors

Several people have asked me what effect if any, the San Bernardino shooting, along with other mass shootings with the haunting backdrop of terrorist threats, will have on jury decision making. Such questions assume that people are living in fear yet again and are being forced to consider (even subconsciously) their own mortality more than they have had to in a long time, probably the most since September 11, 2001.

In trial, witnesses are the ones who are there to tell the story, so here are 10 tips to keep in mind when prepping a witness for testimony: Tell the truth Take your time and remain calm.  If opposing counsel gets agitated it means you are doing well. Listen carefully to the question.  Answer only what is asked. Answer in your own words.  Remember, replying “Yes” means you agree to

It is always interesting when politicians are charged criminally. Of note, perceptions of politicians are on par with perceptions of lawyers: not very high. Remember Michael Grimm from New York’s 13th congressional district who threatened to throw a reporter off the Capitol Rotunda? He was since charged by federal authorities with 20 counts of fraud, federal tax evasion, and perjury. He initially denied everything but ultimately pleaded guilty to a

One of the first things that often goes through someone’s mind when they are summoned for jury duty is “how do I get out of this?” The time commitment, money lost or not earned, and a generalized lack of interest are the main reasons for such an initial reaction. However, what I have found over the years is that serving on a jury, as reported by jurors in post-trial interviews,

There seems to be a consensus that if James Holmes, the Colorado shooter, is sentenced to death it will be a long long time before he is actually executed. This perception overlooks exactly what it is that results in the long periods between sentence and execution in death penalty cases. I realize there are some quirks with Colorado procedure but there are also some (and by some I mean a

As the Colorado theater shooting trial comes to a close, all eyes will be on the jury as it sets out to determine whether James Holmes was legally sane three years ago when he set off tear gas grenades and shot into the audience with multiple firearms killing 12 people and injuring 70 others. The Judge has been contemplating what to tell the lawyers and jurors about talking to the

Two ex-football players were convicted of multiple counts of aggravated rape and sexual battery after a jury took just 2 hours to reach a verdict. During Q&A with some jurors after the verdict, it became apparent that video of the actual incident was pivotal. One juror said “as soon as we saw the video we knew exactly who was guilty of what and what we were going to come back