Who/What To Trust – Science or Experience?

It is beyond question that we inhabit a nation where, to some, a trusted voice is more valued than hard data and science.  Why?  Are some people hard wired (or might we say “politically wired”) to view scientific evidence either as credible or untrustworthy?  And if the answer is “yes,” what does that imply for

BRAIN LESSONS: IT’S HOW ONE SAYS IT

Tremendous time and effort are spent on word choice – drafting the perfect motion in limine, opening statement, and/or closing argument.  However, it may be that the more time spent on how the ideas are delivered will enhance persuasion more than the words used. This is brought home in a new research paper, How The

BRAIN LESSONS: ATTRACTIVE ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS

I [Grant] discovered recently that Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, the hilarious movie about two con-men competing to swindle a rich heiress, was released on December 14th, 31 years ago.  You may recall the premise of the movie:  A dashing and debonair swindler, played by Michael Caine, gets into a winner-takes-all swindling battle for an heiress’s money

BRAIN LESSONS: A DOG IS A JUROR’S BEST FRIEND

In honor of national Adopt-A-Dog and Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog month, we will look at an interesting study on drug-dog evidence and mock-juror decision making, examining whether jurors would credit the alert of a drug-sniffing dog as a *sufficient condition* for guilt in a trafficking case.  The researchers in this study tested how much credit mock jurors would

BRAIN LESSONS: THE POWER OF STORY-TELLING

After 300+ exonerations, and the attraction to forensics engendered by television series, one might think that the recovery of DNA at a crime scene – DNA that does *not* match the defendant – would quickly lead to acquittal. The contrary has occurred, however, particularly where a ‘good story’ to ‘explain’ the foreign DNA is told.

BRAIN LESSONS: THE PERSUASIVE VOICE

I [Grant] have been teaching again in my Advanced Trial Advocacy class on Patsy Rodenburg’s book, The Second Circle, and decided this month that I would dovetail a bit with Jules’s excellent post last month on how the voice persuades.[1]  While this month’s post isn’t necessarily about new research, my hope is that you find

BRAIN LESSONS: PERSUADED OR CONVINCED?

Consider an argument you made to your jury just before they deliberate and hand you your hard-fought victory.  Did you persuade them or did you convince them?  Perhaps you just dissuaded them from finding for the other side.  However, if you dissuaded them, why can’t you also say that you dis-convinced them?  Or disvinced them?

BRAIN LESSONS: A COUPLES-ONLY DANCE

We have all seen it.  We have all seen the lawyer or the student so involved with her notes or his script that they seem to have uncoupled from the courtroom itself.  I take that moment to study the faces of the jury.  What are they doing while the scribe at the podium has a

BRAIN LESSONS: EXPERTS ARE NOT IMMUNE FROM COGNITIVE BIASES

It may be silly but bears repeating – experts are people too, subject to a variety of influences that may distort their thinking, approach and conclusions without realizing this is occurring. This understanding of expert non-neutrality is nothing new – the 2009 report STRENGTHENING FORENSIC SCIENCE – A PATH FORWARD emphasized this. Some initial and