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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Invisible Culture Of The Jury

Jurors seek to find meaning in the facts. They accomplish this by sifting the facts through their invisible cultural grid.* Understanding the range of cultures assists in developing and presenting demonstrative evidence that relates to every member of the panel.
  • Tribal Jurors are traditionalists. They value the honor of being selected and will not act in any way that disgraces the jury. They are embarrassed when others are disrespectful or blasphemous.
  • Warrior Jurors prefer action to words. They see deliberations as a battle to be won or lost. They despise weakness and will follow only those perceived as stronger. They draw a “line in the sand” and will not compromise.
  • Dutiful Jurors are the ideal panel members. They seek to do what is right, they respect authority, they are willing to fulfill duty and responsibility, they will sacrifice for the good of others, they put principle before personal preference, and they are governed by clear thinking rather than emotion or impulse.
  • Maverick Jurors are not team players. They are more concerned about personal time and resources than about the legal process. They do not tolerate ineffectiveness or inefficiency (which is by nature part of the jury process) and feel suffocated when they believe there are too many rules and regulations.
  • Empathetic Jurors are a plaintiff’s dream team. They form an immediate resonance with anyone who has been victimized, and want to help the injured recover. They refuse to be a party to exploitive, uncaring, or insensitive behavior.

It is unlikely that a legal team will be able to predict the culture of individual jurors. Therefore, it is better to assume that the panel is composed of every type of juror. In preparing demonstrative evidence:

  1. Communicate the argument and the facts in ways that each culture appreciates.

  2. Affirm the values held by jurors—incorporating them into the demonstrative evidence.

  3. Eliminate all offensive vocabulary and images that would cause a juror to reject the argument by rejecting the presentation.

Most people are unaware of their personal culture and the role it plays in sorting information. Good communication seeks to convey meaning by the use of symbols which each viewer can appreciate.

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*Distinct packets of culture are called memes. The concept was developed by Clare Graves to describe how cultural values reinforce one another.

1 comment:

Corine said...

This certainly does describe a jury to a tee. If you have ever served on one, you would know. Additionally, there are others who are enculturated into the jury system, like first timers, and those handling the jury foreperson job for the first time.