By Dr. Shelley Spiecker:
I recently had the opportunity to interview a juror in the case of The State of Nevada v. Linda Cooney in which prosecutors claimed 66-year-old Linda Cooney shot her grown son, Kevin, in a rage over his relationship with his then-girlfriend. As a result of the shooting, Kevin is an incomplete quadriplegic. As is the case with many publicized criminal cases, there are clearly two sides to the story. What makes this case unique, however, is the fact the Defense story was told by Linda’s two sons. The first son, Christopher, a Las Vegas police officer, testified that his mother was attacked by his brother and the gun went off during the struggle. The second was Kevin himself, who testified that the gun went off accidentally when he grabbed it from his mother. He further testified that he was at fault and his mother was the victim. Linda Cooney did not testify in her defense, but rather relied on her sons’ testimonies to support her innocence.
One might think that with the only two eyewitnesses both supporting the defendant (albeit in different ways), it would be a slam dunk acquittal. But it did not turn out that way. Without the sons’ testimonial support, the prosecution relied on two fundamental persuasion principles to prove its case. After just over two weeks of trial, the 12-person jury convicted Linda Cooney of attempted murder in less than two hours. I discovered in my interview that the prosecution got to that result by relying on two simple, but profound principles of legal persuasion. This post takes a closer look at the interview and at those two principles.