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Jury selection is critical in preventing shock verdicts

Westlaw Today

August 3, 2022

Authors: E. Stratton Horres Jr., Karen L. Bashor, Taylor A. Buono

Shocking verdicts continue to make headlines. Stratton Horres (Senior Counsel-Dallas), Karen Bashor (Partner-Las Vegas) and Taylor Buono (Associate-Las Vegas) co-authored “Jury selection is critical in preventing shock verdicts” in the August 3, 2022, Reuters Attorney Analysis in Westlaw Today. The authors’ commentary references a November 2021 blog published by the Insurance Information Institute attributing shock verdicts as being a result of “social inflation,” a concept stemming from “the phenomenon of unexpected rising claim costs established in the United States and increasing globally due to numerous factors, such as economic inflation, the ramifications of the global pandemic, social unrest, polarization of society on various issues and build-up of corporate distrust.” Recognizing that potential jurors often wish to “send a message” to corporate America and right perceived wrongs in society, national litigation consultants created an Anti-Corporate Bias Scale (ACBS) to establish a reliable measure for identifying jurors who potentially wish to send the aforementioned “message.” With the goal of placing trust back in companies in the eyes of potential jurors, establishing credibility, and humanizing the company at the outset of a case, “[a]ttorneys engaging in jury selection ought to focus much of their energy on selecting their jury by working to evaluate - from the inception of a case - the kind of jury their client wants or needs and the jury that their client does not want…They should incorporate into the trial and through closing arguments the importance of the evidence being immune to passion, prejudice and sympathy, and treating corporate defendants fairly.” The article discusses practical techniques during voir dire to help guard against the potential jurors who may favor shock verdicts. 

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