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Reasons to be Skeptical of Civil Juries

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Trial consultant Adrienne Lefevre, writing in the ABA's Products Liability Newsletter:

Jurors, like sporting event spectators, look to pick, and then root, for a side. When jurors have no allegiance to either side, many rely on the story behind the parties to motivate them to commit to a "team." An effective story should incorporate simple arguments that appeal to jurors' common sense. In today's courtrooms, when attorneys simply argue a products liability case using the law or mounds of complicated scientific evidence, they unwisely increase the risk of defeat.
Get it? Don't count on relying on the law or the facts, unless you are able to conjure up a "good story" that appeals to common sense and the jury's need to "root for a team." Lefevre goes on to discuss ways that jury decisionmaking tends to conflict with basic principles of our legal system (e.g., juries rely on a defendant's general reputation to assess blame in a particular case, juries award larger damages against big corporations). Some of my thoughts on civil juries, and why they should be abolished or at least restricted, can be found here.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


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