The Litigation Psychology Podcast

The Litigation Psychology Podcast presented by Courtroom Sciences, Inc. (CSI) is a podcast for in-house and outside defense counsel and insurance claims personnel about the intersection of science and litigation. We explore topics of interest to the defense bar, with a particular emphasis on subjects that don‘t get enough attention. Our hosts are experts in Clinical Psychology, Social Psychology, and scientifically-based jury research with a wealth of knowledge about science, research, human behavior, and decision making, which they apply in the context of civil litigation.

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16 hours ago

Michael “Mick” Williams, Ph.D., Founding Member of The Science of P/CVE & Shawn C. Marsh, Ph.D., Director of Judicial Studies and Associate Professor of Communication Studies / Social Psychology at the University of Nevada, Reno join Steve Wood, Ph.D. to discuss the concept of Terror Management Theory and its implications on civil litigation. Mick and Shawn define what Terror Management Theory is, how Terror Management Theory relates to the Reptile Theory and Edge Theory, and what the evidence and implications are for juror decision making related to concepts of mortality. The group also discuss some of the research and subtle ways in which jurors can be influenced to drive specific perceptions and decisions. Shawn describes how stress, environmental factors, humanizing defendants and corporations, and other worldviews also can be used to influence jurors. Mick, Shawn, and Steve discuss the role of self-esteem and anger in the litigation process and lastly talk about implicit bias and what role it plays on jurors, attorneys, and judges. Watch the video of this episode:

Monday Jun 24, 2024

In the first of a two-part episode, Bill Kanasky, Jr., Ph.D. talks about opening statements and what not to do in your opening statement. First, Bill explains the primary reasons why opening statements fail: 
1) Attorneys don't get formal training on how to construct an opening statement;2) Attorneys don't have an understanding of how the juror brain processes information;3) The games our minds play on us;4) Many attorneys have less experience and opportunity to do opening statements because fewer cases go to trial. 
Bill shares what not to do in your opening statement:- Do not introduce yourself to the jury; - Don't thank the jury for their civic duty;- Don't start your opening with a corny story or a joke; - Don't discuss the role of the jurors;  - Don't go on too long;  - Don't read your opening statement from a legal pad or a tablet;  - Don't go on the defensive.
In part 2, Bill will discuss what you should do in your opening statement. 

Monday Jun 17, 2024

Attorney Chris Turney of Turney LG joins Bill Kanasky, Jr., Ph.D. to discuss inflated settlements and verdicts. Chris describes what he believes are the factors that are influencing and effecting outsized settlements and verdicts and walks through a 4 quadrant concept to help explain what is happening. Chris defines what he refers to as direct actions, indirect actions, intentional actions, and unintentional actions and provides examples and details for each quadrant. Chris and Bill discuss verdict shaming, spike evaluations, storytelling, generating interest for the jury, and how to talk to clients about investing in weaponry. Lastly, Bill and Chris talk about preparing and training witnesses for deposition, particularly witnesses who are wrestling with stresses that are outside the litigation. Chris emphasizes the importance of getting down into the trenches with your witnesses and really understanding their perspective and challenges, plus how to deal with personal questions at deposition. Watch the video of this episode:

Monday Jun 10, 2024

Ava Hernandez, M.A. joins Steve Wood, Ph.D to talk about her background and how she got started in the litigation consulting field. Ava shares how she spent the early part of her career working in law firms, including both plaintiff and defense firms, then got interested in psychology, went back to earn her Masters in Clinical Psychology, and then ended up at Courtroom Sciences as a Litigation Consultant. Ava talks about what type of cases she enjoys working on and why the application of psychology in litigation is so interesting to her. She shares how important it is for her to help people and her fascination with understanding why people think the way they do and believe so strongly in what they believe in. Ava and Steve talk about how they manage feedback from jurors that may seem nonsensical since those thoughts and comments do make sense to the person sharing their perspective. Lastly, Ava shares how her experience working with plaintiff attorneys gives her an advantage when working on the defense side. Watch the video of this episode:

Monday Jun 03, 2024

Holly Howanitz, Managing Partner, Tyson & Mendes joins Bill Kanasky, Jr., Ph.D. to talk about cross-examination of expert witnesses. Holly highlights that you need think about your goals when cross-examining expert witnesses especially since experts often have more experience testifying than a fact witness. Bill and Holly talk about strategic decisions such as when to bring up "bombs" for the expert either at deposition or at trial and how to approach preparing for cross-examining an expert. Holly shares how she prepares for an arrogant expert or an expert that does primarily work for the plaintiff's side. Bill and Holly also talk about preparing experts for the defense and what that process is like. Watch the video of this episode:

Monday May 27, 2024

Kent Doll, Trial Attorney & Owner, KND Law joins Bill Kanasky, Jr., Ph.D. to share his litigation philosophy, Bill and Kent discuss the difference between a trial attorney and a litigator. They discuss trial technology and Kent's approach to jury selection and how important it is to get jurors to open up and share so you can understand their biases and perspectives. Bill and Kent talk about opening statements and closings and Kent shares the advice he would give to attorneys in the early part of their career and thoughts on managing mental health in a highly stressful job.  Watch the video of this episode:

Monday May 20, 2024

Bill Kanasky, Jr., Ph.D. and Steve Wood, Ph.D. conclude our med mal litigation series by talking about trial preparation for medical malpractice cases. Steve and Bill discuss important tips about managing and preparing witnesses for trial testimony, working with witnesses as early as possible before trial, and helping them understand the difference between direct and cross examination and what to know if they are called adversely. They emphasize how important it is for witnesses to be completely familiar with their deposition testimony and to keep their responses to questions short so that jurors can follow along. Bill and Steve also talk about voir dire and misperceptions about what types of people make "good" jurors or "bad jurors" and how demographics or occupations are poor predictors of juror perspectives. Lastly, they discuss opening statements in med mal cases and how and why to leverage the cognitive lens in your opening statement.

Monday May 13, 2024

Steve Wood, Ph.D. talks about preparing witnesses for trial testimony. Steve mentions several key tips including teaching witnesses to take their time when responding both during direct examination and cross-examination. It is important for witnesses to be consistent with how much time they are taking to answer both direct and cross questions so jurors don't perceive any discrepancy. Taking time in answering also helps jurors who are hearing the information for the first time and need time to process the questions and responses. Steve also highlights the need for witnesses to have short, concise answers. Long, wordy responses will be difficult for the jury to follow. Witnesses need to look at the jury when giving their answers but must do it in a way that is comfortable both for them and for the jurors. Steve stresses how critical it is to prepare witnesses for any documents they will be shown at trial. They need to be given time to review documents they may be shown and should re-read their deposition testimony as well. Lastly, Steve talks about some misperceptions about jury selection and specific types of jurors. Watch the video of this episode:

Monday May 06, 2024

Dr. Jordan Romano joins Bill Kanasky, Jr., Ph.D. to discuss expert witness testimony in medical malpractice cases. Dr. Romano has served as an expert witness on numerous medical malpractice cases and talks about how he got started as an expert witness, how he got up to speed on the litigation process, and what he does as a hospitalist. Bill asks Dr. Romano about the differences between working as an expert for the plaintiff's side and the defense side and what advice he would give attorneys on what they can do better when working with experts. Dr. Romano also addresses the questions that he gets at deposition or trial about his compensation to serve as an expert witness. Lastly, Dr. Romano shares how he manages his testimony at trial when in teaching mode and when being attacked by opposing counsel. Watch the video of this episode:

Monday Apr 29, 2024

Steve Wood, Ph.D. & Bill Kanasky, Jr., Ph.D. join host Ava Hernandez to talk about what they have been seeing in the cases they have been working on recently. Steve shares that he's been seeing more jurors who are expecting fact witnesses to remember all details from the incident and talks about how to address this issue. The group discuss the pros and cons of the legal strategy of withholding documents from witnesses or not showing witnesses videos or other documents prior to their deposition, in particular corporate reps. Bill shares an insight he recently heard from a successful plaintiff attorney: cases are win or lost in the first or second deposition. Steve, Bill, and Ava talk about how many witnesses get so upset about personal questions asked at deposition and how it needs to be handled. They also share a positive trend they have been seeing of more attorneys and clients doing early assessments on their cases, sometimes even before a suit is filed or before depositions have been scheduled. Lastly, they talk about seeing some encouraging signs of sharing and collaboration on the defense side and more of a focus on the mental health of witnesses. Watch the video of this episode:

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