July 26, 2016 Articles

Engaging Jurors with Technical Information: Building Trust and Cognition Without Overload

Using small-group strategies can help deliberative groups like juries, who can be easily overwhelmed by process and information.

By Janell Walther

Juries can often struggle to understand and trust complex information, as is typical of groups that deliberate to reach a consensus. Because of this, expert witnesses should keep in mind how such groups come together and understand information. By using the following techniques, expert witnesses can help jury comprehension, memory, and deliberation.  

First, it is important to capture jurors’ attention. Jurors, by definition, are supposed to be a captive audience. However, it often seems difficult to present complex information to jurors in a way that engages them with an idea and increases deliberative thought. Jurors are more likely to remember key points, consider concepts more thoroughly, and use knowledge to support decisions when information is shared in an engaging way. To engage jurors, expert witnesses should focus on sharing information clearly and through narrative. 

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