As closing arguments finished in a recent employment jury trial that I sat through, the defense team and I felt, predictably, that we had the overwhelming weight of evidence on our side of the case. But still, we worried as the jury filed in to deliberate. We had faced a Plaintiff's case based on the single simple appeal that a big heartless company will always try to squash the little guy and cover up its tracks in the process, and supported that narrative with nothing other than the Plaintiffs' own testimony and the attorney's narrative skill. The lack of evidence on the plaintiff's side didn't make us sanguine, because we well understood the potential for bias and knew that this basic story could play well with a population that has grown to expect the worst of big companies. So it was to our great relief when the jury came back after about a day of deliberations with a defense verdict on all claims. And it was not only relief, but also reassurance in the jury process itself. While it is true, as we often tell clients, that anything can happen with a jury, it is also true that far more often than not, jurors come back with the verdict that you and I would expect based on a good understanding of the law and a fair-minded hearing of the evidence.
Jurors' tendency to do the right thing at the end of the day shouldn't be surprising in light of the research. Another study has recently reaffirmed the fact that in the deliberation room, it is not appeals to bias or other fallacious lines of proof that persuades most often, but it is a reliance on the evidence and the legal requirements of the verdict.