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Greg Cusimano has been practicing law for over fifty- years and has spent the past twenty-five studying the social science behind group decision-making, as well as and different kinds of biases. In this interview, Cusimano, a co-author of Winning Case Preparation: Understanding Jury Bias, explains how the Jury Bias Model and Bottom-Up Preparation can help you determine whether or not to take a case and how to best present case facts to a jury.
Cusimano explains that the Jury Bias Model is designed to give lawyers a way to analyze the facts of their case to better decipher its strengths and weaknesses. He points out that bias can be both conscious and unconscious, and it influences jurors' reactions and decision-making. For the sake of your case’s outcome, it is crucial to understand how to identify and navigate your jury’s bias. Cusimano discusses the five types of jury bias:
- Personal responsibility
- Stuff happens
- Blame the plaintiff
If the facts of your case present an opportunity for any of these biases to sway a juror’s opinion, you need to know how to counter. Cusimano encourages listeners to foresee these issues and utilize different tactics to identify these biases during voir dire and redirect a juror’s attention. He also shares anecdotes from past cases to illustrate using the Jury Bias Model.
After identifying a jurors' biases you can construct your case around their beliefs and what they want to know. Bottom-Up Preparation is a way to build your trial story based on what your jury will think is important. Cusimano outlines the process and emphasizes the importance of jury research to better understand how to appeal to the panel. He offers different methods to conduct research and identify how your case’s core can relate to the jury.
After the interview, Cusimano takes on listener questions on the following topics:
- Practical advice to appear sincere and credible when the facts of the case are awful
- How does the jury bias model deal with racial bias?
- What to do when a jury’s beliefs are inconsistent with one another
- What are the best questions to ask during voir dire to address each of the biases?
- What type of jury research is most useful?
- How to develop a trial story
- What focus groups have discovered about Trump supporters
- How does bottom-up case preparation differ when trying a case to a jury versus a bench trial?
Cusimano theorizes that you’re likely to lose if your case is inconsistent with jurors' beliefs; and that you should take the time to better understand your jury and use these techniques to better your case.
*This interview was originally offered to customers as part of our Trial Guides LIVE Fireside Chat series. The content has been remastered and edited for brevity and clarity.