Dateline: April, 2022, Issue 1
Jurors exist in a day-to-day world consisting primarily of visual presentations of information, a world that eschews purely verbal presentations of information. A courtroom trial exists is a very different world, a world that often emphasizes the verbal and oral over the visual and technological.
Between 2011 and 2017, a federal district judge in the Northern District of Illinois, Honorable Amy St. Eve, asked over 500 jurors in some 50 civil and criminal trials to complete a voluntary, anonymous questionnaire at the conclusion of their jury service (St. Eve & Scavo, 2018; St. Eve, 2021). Jurors were asked five questions, three of which were to list: (1) three things (in order) that the lawyers did during trial that they liked, (2) three things (in order) the lawyers did during trial that they disliked, and (3) what the attorneys could have done differently or better.
Nearly one in five jurors listed the effective use of technology or visual aids by attorneys as their most positive comment, while one in 10 jurors listed the lack of use (or ineffective use) of technology or visual aids as their most negative comment.
Jurors preferred when attorneys used technology during trial to organize and present evidence. Specifically:
Jurors frequently mentioned that they were not able to hear attorneys, and suggested that attorneys use microphones more often.
Jurors not only expected attorneys to incorporate technology into their trial presentations, jurors also expected attorneys to know how to use that technology effectively and efficiently. Jurors were critical both of (a) attorneys who did not use technology and (b) attorneys who did not use technology effectively. Jurors suggested that attorneys better learn how to use technical equipment and computers in advance of trial. Jurors liked and frequently mentioned that the technology and visuals were helpful to them.
This research finds that jurors like technology, expect technology, expect attorneys to use technology, and expect attorneys to use that technology effectively. Jurors do not like primarily or purely verbal trial presentations.
Source St. Eve, A.J. & Scavo, G. (2018). What juries really think: Practical guidance for trial lawyers. Cornell Law Review Online, 103, pp. 149-174.
Source St. Eve, A.J. (2021). What juries really think: Practical guidance for future trial lawyers. Fordham Law Review , 89(6), pp. 2623-2640.