The Litigation Psychology Podcast

The Litigation Psychology Podcast presented by Courtroom Sciences, Inc. (CSI) is for in-house and outside defense counsel 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 Ph.D.-level Social Scientists, Clinical Scientists, and Psychology Experts 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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4 days ago

Bill Kanasky, Jr., Ph.D. talks about the difference between witness prep and witness training and how the combination of the defense attorney with a witness training expert is the perfect partnership. Some attorneys don't understand or appreciate the difference between witness prep and witness training. Witness prep is the attorney's job going over documents and exhibits and developing the legal strategy. Witness training is focused on working with the witness on their cognition, behavior, and emotion, delivering a sophisticated neurocognitive training that creates a more effective witness. Getting a positive outcome from testimony requires the combination and partnership of both defense counsel and a witness training expert. Watch the video of this episode:

Monday May 22, 2023

Dr. Steve Wood shares what to look for in a corporate representative and a list of five (5) essential elements for someone to serve as an effective 30(b)(6) witness:
1) Humility - The individual has to feel comfortable saying "I don't know". 2) Patience - The witness needs to wait for the questioner to finish asking their question before responding. They also have to be patient with the  deposition and litigation process as a whole. 3) Emotional poise - The witness must avoid making emotional mistakes and avoid being baited into emotional reactions by opposing counsel.4) Confidence - An effective witness must be able to embrace their conduct and be confident and steadfast when being pushed by opposing counsel. 5) Open-mindedness - An effective corporate rep must trust the process. They have to take witness training and deposition prep seriously. They also must have a strong ability to focus on the task at hand and not allow themselves to be distracted. 
Watch the video of this episode:

Monday May 15, 2023

Dr. Bill Kanasky, Jr. talks about a list of words that the brain normally doesn't think of as bad words but which can be really bad words if a witness says them, or agrees to them, in deposition or trial testimony. These are trap words that lock witnesses into inflexible positions and are a big reason why witness effectiveness training, prior to testimony, is crucial to litigation success.
The Bad Word List (aka the anti-reptile word list): always/never; must/should; required/obligated/duty; insure/guarantee; every/everything/all; any/anything; risk/danger/harm/safety; well-being; priority; important; prevent; deviate; breach; violate. Each of these words eliminate judgment and circumstances and if written in policies and procedures can get you into trouble precisely because they remove judgment from the equation.
The Good Word List (words to use when appropriate during testimony): judgment; training; experience; appropriate; reasonable; sufficient; circumstances; situation.
Words that are "Middle of the Road" Words (not necessarily good words nor bad words; use judiciously): potentially; maybe; possibly; sometimes; not necessarily.

Monday May 08, 2023

Dr. Kyle Boone, Clinical Neuropsychologist and Clinical Professor at UCLA, joins Bill Kanasky, Jr., Ph.D. to talk about Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) in litigation. TBI claims are increasing exponentially and Dr. Boone gives an overview of concussions and mild traumatic brain injuries and discusses assumptions, myths, and truths about the diagnosis of a mild TBI. Dr. Boone and Dr. Kanasky, Jr. discuss how these issues play out in litigation, what defense attorneys need to be aware of in TBI cases, juror assumptions about concussions, and how to best utilize and cross-examine expert witnesses in TBI litigation. Contact Dr. Boone at

Monday May 01, 2023

Bill Kanasky, Jr., Ph.D. talks about egregious conduct in the trucking and transportation industry. Bill describes the importance of accurately assessing your case early with focus groups to find out what jurors might think about the case.
Bill also lists specific behaviors and topics that jurors consistently have issues with in trucking and transportation cases: 1) Dash cam video; 2) Unenforced policies; 3) Log falsifications; 4) Driver substance abuse; 5) Poor hiring practices; 6) Cell phone use by driver; 7) Listening to YouTube (but not watching); 8) Weak driver training; 9) Excessive speed; 10) Driving in inclement weather; 11) Sleeping hour violations; 12) Social media posts.
Watch the video of this episode:

Monday Apr 24, 2023

Bill Kanasky, Jr., Ph.D. and Steve Wood, Ph.D. discuss who's to blame when things go poorly with a case. Bill and Steve share stories of when and how jury consultants get blamed or are set up as the fall guy for situations when depositions, jury selections, or trials turn out badly for the defense. They talk about the risk in accuracy, reliability, and predictability when cutting corners with jury research and the importance of a methodical, scientific process for recruiting, screening, and compensating jurors for a mock trial. They also discuss the problems with clients requesting to accomplish too much in a single mock trial when its a complicated case, not putting on the best opposition case in a mock trial, and how the reluctance on the defense side to admit liability can create risks and that admitting liability and anchoring damages needs to be tested in a mock trial. Watch the video of this episode:

Monday Apr 17, 2023

Holly Howanitz, Partner, Wicker Smith joins Dr. Bill Kanasky, Jr. to talk about ways to prepare opening statements that attract and hold juror attention and engagement. Holly talks about using visual stimuli in openings, her thoughts on the length of her openings, and how she decides how long her openings will be. In addition, Holly discusses managing turnover within the firm when associates or attorneys leave to take another job, how her firm helps getting younger attorneys experience, and why clients need to understand the necessity of getting these younger attorneys valuable experience with witness prep, mediations, and trial. Bill and Holly also talk about managing disagreements with clients or a lack of alignment on the assessment or strategy of a case. Lastly they discuss the role of fitness and managing your physical and mental health when having stressful jobs. Watch the video of this episode:

Monday Apr 10, 2023

Dr. Steve Wood discusses the topic of humanizing the corporate defendant. The data doesn’t support that making the argument to jurors that the corporation is made up of regular people who just go to work and try to do their best. Mock trials and actual trials have consistently demonstrated that jurors see through these arguments and don't buy into this. Jurors also discount arguments made about how the company supports other worthy causes, recognizing that those charitable contributions are tax write-offs and calling those actions out as insincere or tainted. 
Based on all this, what can be done to humanize the corporate defendant?1) Work with your corporate representatives by getting them involved early to ensure they are prepared for trick questions in deposition, present well at deposition and trial, and that their testimony and demeanor is credible; 2) Have a plan for communicating in a crisis. Work with an experienced crisis management and crisis response team to define the narrative of the incident and the company's response. A strategic and thoughtful crisis communication response can defend and even bolster the reputation of the company even before the possibility of litigation arises; 3) Get an idea of anti-corporate bias in jury selection by asking more insightful voir dire questions and digging deeper into juror attitudes, beliefs, experiences, and personalities to identify explicit or implicit biases; 4) Make a plan to address head-on the topic that plaintiff's counsel will bring up about your client valuing profits over safety; 5) During trial, be cognizant of how the corporate rep is behaving and the impression the corporate rep is giving the jury, even while they are just sitting at the defense table. Humanizing the corporate defendant is possible, but it requires a deliberate approach and being aware of juror perceptions throughout the entire litigation process.

Monday Apr 03, 2023

Sorena Fallin, Partner & Matt Cassman, Associate Attorney from Ragsdale Liggett join Bill Kanasky, Jr., Ph.D. to discuss the recently signed tort reform bill in Florida,  HB 837. The changes apply to causes of action accruing after the effective date of March 24, 2023 and prior to the bill becoming law, reports state that plaintiffs’ firms filed approximately 100,000 lawsuits. Sorena outlines the bill and the impact it will have on defense firms and insurance companies. She shares details about the reduction in the statute of limitations and the change in the law that limits the amount of evidence of past medical bills to what has been paid versus what was billed. The new law changes Florida’s apportionment standard from a pure comparative negligence approach to a modified comparative negligence approach. Also under the new law, if a jury finds that a plaintiff is more than 50% at fault for their own harm, then the plaintiff is barred from recovering any damages from any defendant. This may reduce the volume of litigation for defense firms and may allow more pre-suit resolutions. Sorena and Matt also talk about letters of protection, the overall impact on medical malpractice litigation in Florida, the reaction of the plaintiff's bar, and more. Watch the video of this episode:

Monday Mar 27, 2023

Dr. Bill Kanasky, Jr. talks about jury selection and why demographics and intelligence are not predictive of pro-defense jurors. A mistake defense counsel often make is identifying a few demographic criteria and then selecting a jury based on those criterion. Instead, voir dire should be conducted to gain a deeper understanding of a juror's attitudes, experiences, personality, and beliefs which are the key drivers of their evaluation and decision making process. Watch the video of this episode:

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