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December 27, 2021

Do federal jurors still care whether a witness is caught in a lie? Not as much, say 2 veteran litigators

If you have a trial coming up in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, it’s likely that jurors will be spread out across the courtroom and masked, rather sitting in the box.

And your litigation team has to tune in remotely because the team members can’t join you at the counsel table, says Ronald Safer, a Chicago lawyer who has tried two federal cases in the past six months.

The physical aspects aren’t the only changes in federal litigation, according to Safer, who shared his observations, along with fellow Chicago trial lawyer James Sotos. They think jurors, particularly those younger than age 40, are much more forgiving whether a witness is caught lying, few care whether a party admits to drug use, and many expect significant documentation from law enforcement trying to defend misconduct charges.

Both are featured in this month’s Asked and Answered podcast, which is looking at how litigation has changed over the years.

Send ideas for future episodes to ABA Journal Senior Writer Stephanie Francis Ward.

In This Podcast

Ronald Safer

Ronald Safer is a name partner at Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila in Chicago. He previously chaired the criminal division of the Chicago U.S. attorney’s office and now does civil and white-collar defense work.

James Sotos

James Sotos of the Sotos Law Firm defends municipalities on civil rights claims. He also provides defense for law enforcement accused of misdeeds and has argued two U.S. Supreme Court cases.

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