Thursday, September 29, 2011

Don't Let Your Jurors Miss the Gorilla in the Room

People were asked, in a classic experiment, to watch a short video in which six people-three in white shirts and three in black shirts - passed basketballs around, and to count the number of passes made by the people in white shirts. At some point, a gorilla strolled into the middle of the action, faced the camera and thumped its chest, and then left, having spent nine seconds on screen.

Although intuitively, we all think we’d see the gorilla - how could something so obvious go completely unnoticed? But the truth of the matter is that half of the people who watched the video and counted the passes missed the gorilla! It was as though the gorilla was invisible.

This research, conducted by scientists Chabris and Simons (“The Invisible Gorilla”) has led to further studies on what is known as “unintentional blindness and deafness.” They found that when we’re focused on one thing, we easily miss other, potentially very important, things.

This is why, when it comes to winning in front of a jury, I strongly recommend that you present your most important evidence/testimony both visually and auditorily. You never know which member of the jury is focused on something that renders them unintentionally deaf or blind to your critical point.

It’s also why repetition is important in a trial, and why review at time of close, matters. Don’t rely on spoken review of testimony, but include a visual review, using boards or other graphics, such as check charts, to sum up your interpretation of the facts.

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