Courtroom Sciences, Inc.'s Litigation Consultants conduct virtual and in-person presentations on a wide range of topics. Below is just a sample of some of our presentation topics, all of which are eligible for CLE* credit. The primary audiences for our presentations are trial attorneys who practice in the areas of medical malpractice, commercial liability, product liability, trucking and transportation, construction, premises liability, patent/IP litigation, as well as in-house corporate counsel, and insurance claims specialists. Contact us today to learn more.

* CLE credit applications must be coordinated by your firm or business. CSI does not manage CLE credit applications.  

Nuclear Verdicts

The “nuclear verdict” is a term recently coined to refer to unexpectedly high damage awards that appear to exceed rational parameters in civil cases. Verdicts with monetary awards that far exceed expectations, and/or that are considered to be inflated, outlandish or even destructive, have been considered to be a problem for at least a generation. Despite this history, however, a recent and somewhat sudden growth in concern among the insurance industry and defense litigators has precipitated a renewed sense of alarm connected to damage awards that appear to be spiraling out of control, with the implication that this trend has taken hold in a more pernicious manner within recent years.

In this presentation we trace the longitudinal development associated with the historical trends in this phenomenon; provide observations from scientific approaches that may be useful in shifting from speculation to more established factual conclusions; and address the much-needed perspective of prediction and control over these awards.

Preventing Amygdala Hijack During Deposition in the Reptilian Era

It is exceptionally rare that a defense witness “wins” the case through his or her deposition testimony. Indeed, it is far more likely that the testimony of the defense witness will “lose” the case during the deposition. The witness brain is inherently wired to defend itself in the face of an adversarial examination and a witness’s ability to control emotion depends on having the capacity to modulate negative emotional responses through cognitive-emotional strategies, which will be covered in this program. Additionally, this program will include the very latest updates on the plaintiff “reptile revolution” efforts across the country, and the various defense methods being used to defeat it at every phase of litigation.

Effects of the COVID-19 Crisis on Jurors' Attitudes & Decision-Making

This presentation will explore the likely effects of the COVID-19 crisis on civil jurors’ attitudes, beliefs, and decision-making processes from an evidence-based perspective. In addition to examining the psychological impacts of COVID-19 on jurors, the presenters will discuss changes in jurors’ attitudes towards corporations and corporate defendants and the influence that corporate responses to COVID-19 may have on juror decisions. Attendees also will learn how the COVID-19 crisis may affect jurors’ expectations for and perceptions of key witnesses. Most importantly, this presentation will discuss strategies for successfully navigating and even capitalizing on this crisis in order to promote positive case outcomes.  

Early Reptile Tactics May Save

Millions of Dollars

One of the Reptilian plaintiff attorneys’ primary goals is crystal clear: destroy the credibility of key defense witnesses, particularly during videotaped deposition testimony. Therefore, the path to effective witness testimony must start very early in the case, while also remaining important at all points in the litigation timeline. Unfortunately, poor witness performance during depositions is ubiquitous, as many defense attorneys use actual depositions to evaluate a witness’ cognitive, emotional and communication abilities, rather than systematically assessing these factors prior to the deposition. Witnesses unprepared for reptile techniques and the psychological warfare that occurs in deposition frequently make admissions that ultimately force defense attorneys to settle over case value or risk going to trial. This presentation focuses on steps that can be taken early in a case to prevent negative outcomes. 

The Reverse Reptile: Turning the Tables on Plaintiff's Counsel

Since 2009, Don Keenan and David Ball, the Reptile founders, claim to have generated over $8 billion in settlements and verdicts. While that figure is staggering, it is very important to know that several well-prepared defendants have crushed the Reptile attack in several areas of litigation. These defendants and their attorneys have adopted their own “anti-Reptile” tactics that have been highly effective in discovery and trial. On the 10-year anniversary of the plaintiff’s Reptile Revolution, with no end in sight and their membership bursting at the seams, it is vital for the defense bar to understand the past and plan for the next 10 years of Reptile maneuvers. Key individuals and entities have empirically studied the evolving Reptile methodology and have tracked and defeated newer Reptile tactics. Disseminating this information, as well as newest Anti-Reptile” tactics across the defense bar is essential to future success. This presentation covers the newest of these tactics called the “Reverse Reptile,” in which defense counsel can turn the tables on the plaintiff, experts, or other parties in a case.

Don't Shoot the Messenger: Exploring Ineffective Witness Testimony

The inherent desire to “shoot the messenger” is a basic human instinct that has survived and evolved over hundreds of years. In ancient times, communications between warring parties were usually delivered by messengers, putting messengers in very precarious, life-threatening situations. In modern usage, the metaphorical expression still connotes negative consequences dished out to a person communicating bad news to others. In litigation, fact witnesses are the “messengers” and jurors’ perception of their credibility, believability, and honesty is critical to success in the deliberation room. But time and again, attorneys and claims managers want to figuratively “shoot” witnesses when poor deposition and trial testimony increases financial exposure and decreases strategic leverage. The path to effective witness testimony starts early in a case and remains important at all points in the litigation timeline.

Fundamentals of Witness Effectiveness Training

Witness testimony impacts a case early on and influences all phases of the litigation process. Poor witness performance often provides leverage for the opposition; increases vulnerability and financial exposure; and creates potentially heavy casualties for clients and attorneys. This presentation reviews fundamental components of witness effectiveness, gleaned through scientific study spanning the last 20+ years.

This presentation will teach how jurors assess witnesses’ verbal and nonverbal behavior, from deposition and trial testimony, to determine whether they are credible, honest, and trustworthy – and ultimately, to evaluate the conduct of the parties. Special emphasis will be placed on combating plaintiff Reptile attacks.

Key topics for this presentation include:

- Practical tips and techniques for evaluating witnesses and enhancing their credibility, understandability and persuasion 

- Common mistakes witnesses make in deposition and at trial

- Neurocognitive approaches to witness training

- Equipping witnesses with the skills and tools needed to navigate Reptile-style questioning

Juror Confirmation Bias

In civil litigation, jurors are instructed to find the truth by impartially evaluating the evidence and coming to an unbiased conclusion. Unfortunately, what actually takes place is a far cry from impartial and unbiased. People tend to interpret new information in a way that confirms their existing beliefs. This is called “confirmation bias.” In this presentation, we explain that confirmation bias affects both potential jurors and trial attorneys, and suggest some strategies for minimizing its effect.

A Lawyer's Guide to Managing a Social Media Crisis 

Attorney credibility has been a topic of interest in academia and the legal community for quite some time. More importantly, attorney credibility has been an area of interest to attorneys themselves. However, the answer to the question, “Does an attorney’s credibility matter in the courtroom?” may not be that straightforward. This program will look at the ways in which attorney credibility influences verdict outcomes, as well as the ways in which attorneys decrease their perceived credibility. 

The New Litigation

Communications Playbook

How to develop effective communication plans to help your client deal with public scrutiny while supporting litigation goals. A how-to, case study-based approach to developing a persuasive narrative, managing traditional and social media, and protecting a client’s reputation from the beginning of a crisis through litigation.

Four Lethal and Preventable Mistakes in Civil Litigation  

An increasing number of cases are now being resolved based upon their perceptual value at the jury level, rather than their realistic economic worth. Plaintiff attorneys have become experts at taking small, relatively benign cases and turning them into expensive “nuclear verdicts.” This often results in a defendant corporation having to pay significantly higher settlement figures and damage awards, as they are hamstrung by poor depositions, bad documents, and a sympathetic plaintiff. Fortunately, attorneys can utilize many techniques to identify each case’s unique perceptual challenges and increase the odds of an optimal settlement or trial outcome. Savvy litigators know that early and accurate evaluations of jury-level perceptions play a key role when opportunities to “out-trade” the other side arise.

Primacy and Recency Effects: The Secret Weapons of Opening Statements

The primacy and recency effects are arguably the most misinterpreted psychological constructs in litigation. Most trial attorneys simply understand them as “jurors most remember the first and last things you say to them.” However, it is not that simple. By definition, true primacy and recency effects occur when memory accuracy varies as a function of an item’s position within a list of words in a controlled research setting. It is impossible to replicate these memory effects in the courtroom because the information presented in the real world, in natural settings, is perceived by the brain and encoded into memory very differently than it is in a laboratory setting. It is important for trial attorneys to understand what primacy and recency effects really are and how they can be used as potent weapons in their opening statement.

How to Partner with a Crisis and    Litigation Communications Firm    

In today’s world, it's critical that lawyers bring additional resources to help protect a client’s reputation and business in crisis and litigation situations. Learn the difference between traditional PR and crisis/litigation communication advisors and the specialized techniques they use to protect your clients’ interests and advance the overall litigation strategy.

A Psychopath in the Courtroom?

This topic might seem peculiar to those working in the realm of civil (and not criminal) litigation. In fact, it is unlikely that any of the players in a civil courtroom will ever search for a “psychopath” therein. Nevertheless, the cumulative effect of corporate misdeeds and the negative press surrounding them has produced such cynicism toward corporations that some people would characterize them as social predators, or psychopaths. This phenomenon has relevance to the litigation environment because of the risk that some potential jurors may be predisposed to find against the corporate client before considering any evidence. Attempts to sway someone with strong negative opinions about corporations are almost certainly futile, because these individuals feel passionately that corporations are corrupt, cunning, and even malicious. As triers of fact, these jurors will not be converted even with the best arguments or evidence. They will actively work toward convincing others to align with them. Fortunately, with effective voir dire techniques, scientifically-based juror questionnaire items, and careful analyses of personal background and social media data, it is possible to identify & eliminate these potential jurors in many cases.

Social Influence in the Courtroom:   What It Is and What To Do About It?    

Because the courtroom is predicated on the notion of persuasion, social influence can play a pivotal role in the decision-making process of attorneys, judges, and jurors. This influence can occur at any time throughout a case, can manifest in many forms, and can originate from various sources. However, if attorneys do not know the who, what, where, when, why, and how of social influence, how can they confidently value their clients’ cases? Moreover, how can they provide their clients with an accurate recommended settlement amount or evaluate the level of exposure if a case were to go to trial? Not knowing the answers to these questions (or receiving the wrong answers because of improper research) could lead to recommending settlement amounts that are too high, costing a client thousands, if not millions, of dollars. This presentation will examine various factors of social influence that occur throughout the course of trial from voir dire to jury deliberations.

Preparing the Foreign-Born Witness for Trial: Beyond the Language Barrier

Most presentations covering the topic of foreign-born witnesses focus on language barriers and the impact of using an interpreter during courtroom testimony. While an important topic, it is a rare occurrence and is not a common challenge that trial teams face as they prepare for trial. However, what is quite common in today’s courtrooms is foreign-born, English-speaking witnesses whose role is to convey believable, persuasive (and critical) testimony to a panel of jurors. There is a misconception among trial attorneys and corporate counsel that the “language barrier” is the primary obstacle to effective courtroom testimony with foreign-born witnesses. The heart of the matter is that foreign-born witnesses are often very poor communicators in the courtroom, not because of the language barrier, but rather because of deep cultural traits that hinder their ability to get their messages across to jurors. With millions, if not billions, of dollars at stake in civil litigation matters, the unique verbal and nonverbal communication challenges associated with foreign-born witnesses can leave trial attorneys and their clients economically vulnerable in the courtroom. Therefore, as the country continues to diversify culturally, and the number of foreign-born witnesses continues to increase over time, trial teams will need to alter and supplement their witness preparation efforts.

The Value of Hiring a

Credible Attorney 

Attorney credibility has been a topic of interest in academia and the legal community for quite some time. More importantly, attorney credibility has been an area of interest to attorneys themselves. However, the answer to the question, “Does an attorney’s credibility matter in the courtroom?” may not be that straightforward. This program will look at the ways in which attorney credibility influences verdict outcomes, as well as the ways in which attorneys decrease their perceived credibility. 

Predicting Juror Verdicts in a Polarized America

Increasing polarization in American politics has led to a substantial shift in civil juror decision-making and jury verdicts. This presentation examines the effects of political beliefs on trial outcomes. Research results indicating the extent to which individual jurors’ political orientation affects verdict preference will be presented, followed by discussion of how case characteristics and juror political orientation can interact to produce unexpected outcomes. Attendees will learn how socio-political changes can impact deliberation dynamics and how to evaluate the composition of a jury. Finally, presenters will review evidenced-based strategies for identifying favorable and unfavorable jurors.

                                Interested in other topics?  Contact us today to discuss your needs.