Do you ever wonder how two people can have completely different reactions to the same statement made by a political candidate? In Social Psychology there is a phenomenon called confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is the tendency to seek out information in a way that confirms one’s preexisting beliefs. This bias suggests that minimal psychological energy is used to seek out and process alternative possibilities. Put simply, people interpret information in

Defense attorneys representing Russell Brown III, who is charged with killing a Virginia State Police Trooper 3 years ago, tried to push his trial to a later date arguing the charged atmosphere surrounding the killings of 5 Dallas Police Officers was too hostile for their client to get a fair trial. The Judge did not accept this rationale for moving the trial date – he felt the Dallas police shootings

I am often asked whether jurors keep an open mind throughout the course of an entire trial or if they make up their minds at an early juncture and stick with their viewpoint. I wrote an article in For the Defense titled, “A Study in Juror Psychology: Making Up Minds Early,” where I addressed such questions; see link page 14 http://forthedefense.org/ftd/2012-03F.pdf In a study of mock jurors I found that

Most of the time when celebrities are on trial they try and connect with the jury by conveying the sense that they, the celebrity, are a lot like regular ordinary folks. In criminal cases, well-known defendants want their star power to shine but not so brightly that it looks as if they are purposefully using their star status to curry favor with jurors and receive preferential treatment. Sometimes the right

Alan Tuerkheimer ‘Making a Murderer’ is the popular web television series exploring the story of Steven Avery who served 18 years in prison for sexual assault before being exonerated in 2003. Shortly after his release, he was arrested in connection with the murder of a local photographer and convicted in 2007, despite proclaiming his innocence. Given the attention this series generated I thought it would be interesting to talk to

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