Jurors and The Illusion of Memory

Trial_by_Jury_Usher

In “The Twelve-Minute Civil Litigator 2015”, Robyn Wishart writes about the memories of jurors.

Wishart states that our “memory is a collection of stories, morals, and lessons.” We do not remember everything that we experience. Instead, we remember what we find significant and from what we find significant we remember the story.

Similarly, jurors remember the significant moments of a trial. From those significant moments, jurors retain the story or lesson of the testimony. The story they remember evolves from their own life experiences.

Wishart recommends that lawyers make their case memorable by: “creating change through compare and contrast; orchestrating and creating memories of significant moments through creative demonstrative evidence; and using themes to close your case”.

She gives the example of Mr. Chaj. Chaj was an illegal migrant worker drinking in a bar. After a bar fight erupted, he was dragged outside by the bouncer and beaten. He sustained a severe brain injury. At the trial, Mr. Chaj wore a hat in the witness box. When he removed his hat, jurors gasped. He was missing a huge part of his head due to the beating. Wishart states that “the remembering self cannot help but get hung up on a moment like this to the exclusion of all other experiences in the trial.” Chaj was awarded $58 million.

Advertisements