The Impact of Jurors’ Perceptions of Attorneys and Their Performance on Verdict
23 Pages Posted: 3 Jul 2010 Last revised: 12 Aug 2010
Date Written: June 1, 2010
The purpose of the present research is to examine whether jurors’ perceptions of attorneys and their performance influences verdicts. Five-hundred seventy-two jurors (365 criminal, 205 civil, and 2 unidentified trial types) completed surveys rating Prosecution/Plaintiff and Defense attorneys on seven aspects of the attorneys and their performance - opening statements, evidence presentation, closing statements, courtroom demeanor, sincerity, competence, and preparedness - that may influence verdicts. In general, jurors’ perceptions were related to their verdicts. First, positive perceptions of the attorneys’ evidence presentation and preparedness predicted favorable outcomes for both attorneys; though these relationships were stronger for the Prosecution/Plaintiff than the Defense attorneys. Second, while the Prosecution/Plaintiff’s opening statements did not influence verdicts, Defense attorneys whose opening statements were perceived more favorably were less likely to win their case. Conversely, Defense attorneys’ closing statements did not influence verdicts, but Prosecution/Plaintiff attorneys whose closing statements were perceived more favorably were more likely to win their case. Finally, perceptions of Prosecution/Plaintiff attorneys’ sincerity were negatively related to a favorable verdict. These findings have implications for attorneys. Those who are attuned to the way they are being perceived by jurors can make changes to improve their chances of receiving a verdict in their (or their client’s) favor.
Keywords: attorneys, attorney performance, jury decision-making, juries
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