Monday, September 30, 2013

Don’t Be Blindsided by “the Curse of Knowledge.” Clarify!

Jurors will not find for what they don’t understand. Simple, right? Yet laying your case out in such a way that jurors readily understand can be more challenging than it at first appears, due to what the authors of the book “Made to Stick” call “the Curse of Knowledge.”

Namely, that you are so deeply steeped in your case, the issues of your case, the whys and wherefores of your case, that you can’t imagine what it is like not to know about it.

Oh, sure, you are well aware that the jurors are uninformed as to the legal aspects of the case, but too often, you don’t tune in to how necessary it is to explain everything about your case in a way your jurors can readily and easily understand.

This doesn’t mean to give excessive detail. It doesn’t mean to “talk down” to jurors, either, a phrase I heartily dislike. Jurors are no different than the folks you interact with every day, from the barista to your mechanic to your support staff. They just have different areas of expertise in which they are far better informed than you are.

Build your jurors’ confidence in their ability to make a wise decision in rendering their verdict by streamlining your arguments, and presenting your key evidence with stunning clarity. Wherever you can, use visuals to further clarify and explain.

Whenever possible, run a focus group of individuals similar to your jury pool. They will tell you, with unerring accuracy, exactly what persons not afflicted with the “Curse of Knowledge” will understand and fail to understand.

And yes, that includes how your experts present their testimony as well.

A WINNING CASE Dr. Noelle Nelson recently consulted on:
*Congratulations to A. Barry Cappello and Leila J. Noël of Cappello & Noël, LLP, and co-counsel, Proskauer Rose, LLP for their Defense Verdict. After an eight-week trial and less than four hours of deliberation, a Santa Barbara Superior Court jury rejected a $27 million lawsuit filed by Johnson & Johnson/Mentor Worldwide LLC against Santa Barbara-based Sientra, Inc. for interference with prospective economic advantage, contract interference, breach of fiduciary duty and misappropriation of trade secrets.

A new book by Dr. Noelle Nelson
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