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Years ago, when I worked in the financial industry, I had a client ask me why XYZ University could run financial simulations and get better results with mutual funds than our company did. Admittedly, I had to think several moments on this. Then it hit me – a simulation could not replicate the emotion behind picking a mutual fund. Underwood, Boudreaux, and Rao (2009), in trying to discern the importance of demographics, concluded, “A case study such as this cannot replicate the dynamics of a jury trial or what takes place in the jury deliberations or even the dynamics of a controlled mock jury experiment” (p. 40). However, it ought not to be discounted that demographics may influence not only the giving of a reward but the type and amount.

Jury selection gives new meaning to stacking the deck. Lieberman and Sales (2007) examined scientific versus ‘gut-feeling’ jury selection. The authors found that there is a slight improvement of a successful jury pool when applying “social psychological principles identified in attitudinal research” (p. 165). Some of the positives of scientific jury selection include change of venue needs and “identify[ing] key issues and themes to be addressed in opening statements and trial strategy” (p. 165).

A competitive edge is what is sought after when compiling a jury pool. Gruppie and Perez (2006) also query if “jury consultants really work” (p. 269). The authors argue that stereotypes and biases can be perpetuated if a scientific jury selection is not employed. It may be too much to hope that “unseen biases” could be weeded out through the expertise of a jury consultant. However, such a goal gets one ever closer to an ideal.

Let Us Play

The Pick 12 Jury Game (Law Focused Education, n.d.) suggests two scenarios and two sides (plaintiff or defendant). I chose a civil case and the plaintiff’s side. The situation is as follows:

Dr. John Payne is a plastic surgeon in a metropolitan area of Texas. Three years ago, Candie Caruthers, a twenty-nine-year-old fashion model, came to see him about a small bump on her face, just above her upper lip, that would not heal. She first noticed the .5 cm. bump about two months earlier and was becoming concerned because it had not healed.

Dr. Payne told Candie the bump was “no big deal” and that he could remove it that day, which he did. Two weeks after the “little” surgery, the bump was still there and about twice its original size. Candie went back to Dr. Payne, who explained that it was a common occurrence for this type of pimple to come back and that he should cut it out again. Candie, although reluctant to undergo more surgery, agreed to the second surgery. Again, the bump came back and this time it was three cm. in size.

When Candie began losing modeling jobs because of the bump on her face, she took Dr. Payne to civil court to recover her lost wages (taken from the game site).

It seemed logical to me to look for jurors who came to the courthouse neatly dressed, suggesting to me that the individual valued looking nice. Next, I looked for jurors who were also young and employed in a profession that may necessitate being dressed at a higher standard. As the jury pool thinned out, I went with some older women who were impeccably dressed, suggesting they valued looking good. Overall, there were 30 potential jurors to choose from.

I received a 54 out of 60 points, which was Very Good. Ten out of the twelve jurors I selected received the full five points each. Their suitability included appearance, education, and age. The other two I chose came from slim pickings. One juror rated three points because his wife was a nurse which may suggest a reticence towards malpractice suits. The other juror rated one point because he was older and in the medical profession.

Conclusion

It is clear to me, at least with the game, that it was fraught with stereotypes and bias. I automatically dismissed those that were sloppily dressed, those who were inattentive, and those who already were complaining to the judge that they needed to be dismissed. Dressing appropriately for a courtroom setting shows respect for the court, especially the judge. Being inattentive and whining is blatantly disrespectful. I cannot see a way around stereotypes of respectful dress and behavior. I have a strong bias regarding respect, so perhaps, I ought to consider other areas of forensic psychology practice.

References

Gruppie, G. R., & Perez, G. (2006). Ethical issues in the use of trial consultants. FDCC Quarterly, 56(2), 267-278. https://web-a-ebscohost-com.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=1&sid=b51818bc-ebf7-4ced-a150-2313e06db7d8%40sessionmgr4006

Law Focused Education. (n.d.). The pick 12 jury game. https://texaslre.org/games_eng/PickTwelve

Lieberman, J. D., & Sales, B. D. (2007). Chapter 8 – Overall effectiveness of scientific jury selection. In Scientific Jury Selection, 143-165. APA. https://web-b-ebscohost-com.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=1&sid=e2a86b3f-ba07-4b19-a6ba-06df6404be70%40pdc-v-sessmgr03

Underwood, J. H., Boudreaux, D. O., & Rao, S. (2009). Demographics in civil trials: Biases and implications. Journal of Business and Economic Research, 7(2), 33-42. https://clutejournals.com/index.php/JBER/article/download/2259/2307/


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