Tag Archives: anti-corporate bias

February 16, 2012

Don’t Just Display Graphics, Interact With Them

By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm:

Play_Eyeliam FCC
Effective legal persuasion requires both show and tell.  No one — not jurors, judges, or arbitrators — like presentation that is just a talking head.  We know from our own experience and research that using graphic designers to develop effective demonstrative exhibits is a way to improve comphehension, help you appear more credible than the other side, and make the key points more memorable.  But our research has also shown that it isn’t just the graphics, it is the way you use them that matters. 

We tend to think of graphics as being either static (boards and slides that are shown) or animated (video that is played).  Increasingly, however, technology is encouraging a third way:  interactivity.  The idea is that a graphic should respond to your commands in order to display different ways in different contexts.  It shouldn’t just lay there like a static graphic, or play in a start-to-finish fashion like a video or animation.  The ability to interact is ideally suited for the informative and persuasive needs of litigation. 

Since we have just completed the development of an attitudinal scale to measure juror bias against corporations, the Persuasion Strategies Anti-Corporate Bias Scale, we wanted to see if we could use our graphical prowess to develop a simple but accurate way to explain a relatively large amount of data.  The result is an infographic that we’ve included at this link (Flash required) and explained in a brief video below.  Developed by Nick Bouck and Erik Brown and programmed by David Carter, it is an interactive chart that illustrates not only the scale, but what you can do with graphics in court as well. 

What is an “Infographic?” 

An infographic — or “information graphic” for those who prefer complete words — provides a visual approach to conveying information or a message.  The increasing popularity of infographics, particularly on social media and the web, emphasizes the novelty and particularly the interactivity of the design.  The best infographics, instead of placing all of the information out there to be “read” in typical linear fashion, incorporate ways of providing information that adapt to what the user wants to see, providing different views in different contexts. 

One good example is a timeline.  Traditionally, building a legal timeline means just placing the events in order in a push-pin sequence on a horizontal axis.  Something like this: Timeline bad2

But a better approach is to employ a program like Flash in order to create a timeline that builds in response to your needs.  For example, a single entry could say “Correspondence Continues:  May – June,” and a click on that text would expand that section of the timeline to show exactly what that correspondence was.  If you click on “Planning memorandum, May 13” then you would see the actual memorandum with the key language highlighted.  A good illustration of a detailed Flash timeline can be found here.  Using an interactive timeline like this, you would be able to show just the basics in an overview (for example during opening) and then expand specific areas when you need more detail (for example during witness testimony) or to compare and contrast specific events in order to make more pointed arguments (for example during closing). 

Our Infographic Explained

Applying some of these ideas to our own need to explain our Anti-Corporate Bias Scale, we recently developed an interactive chart.  We have two ways to look at the infographic. 

Click here for the interactive chart (Flash required):


Or click here for a video showing and explaining its use: 

The Lesson on Graphics

In an age in which the average person can create a reasonable-looking graphic using a program as simple as PowerPoint, it becomes more rather than less important to bring in the experienced eye of a graphics professional.  That person will have the experience to separate a good from a bad visual, and ensure that you are making the most of what current technology has to offer.  As you vet ideas for your own trial graphics, make sure that you are considering newer approaches along with the old: 

  • Old graphics are static, new graphics are dynamic.
  • Old graphics display all at once, new graphics build based on time and context.
  • Old graphics are displayed, new graphics are worked with.


Other Posts on Litigation Graphics:


Photo Credit:  Top of post:  Eyeliam, Flickr Creative Commons;
In video: Spiritinme, R_sh, Studiofour, Shankbone, Flickr Creative Commons.

June 21, 2010

Take It From Rep. Joe Barton: Don’t Be A ‘Friend Of The Devil’

by: Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm

Ken_107 tight Here is a litigation lesson from the world of politics.  The Vice President, along with many other Americans, described it as ‘incredibly insensitive, outrageous, and astounding,’ but last Thursday, in the U.S. House of Representatives, Texas Congressman Joe Barton was facing BP CEO:

“I’m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday.  I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown — in this case a $20 billion shakedown.  … I’m not speaking for anybody else, but I apologize.”

Hours later, Representative Barton was taking back that statement in order to deal with the ensuing uproar from both Democratic and Republican circles.  

I apologize for using the term ‘shakedown’ with regard to yesterday’s actions at the White House in my opening statement this morning, and I retract my apology to BP.

What we see here is an unsuccessful attempt by Rep. Barton to reframe the issues.  On the 59th day of the continuing Deep Horizon oil spill, and two days after President Obama’s oval office speech asking BP to set up a $20 billion dollar fund in order to deal with the consequences of the oil spill, the Congressman seemed to sense a chance to focus the public’s attention on something other than the flowing oil, suffering wildlife, and spoiled beaches.  The President’s demand was unprecedented, and on the heels of an unpopular health care reform law and in the run up to a climate bill being successfully framed as an “energy tax,” the public might have seemed primed to accept Barton’s characterization of the fund request as yet another example of an outrageous power grab by the Democratic President.  Continue reading

January 19, 2010

Make Sure Jurors Tell You How Bad Your Client Is


Boully_Kevin_88_120by: Dr. Kevin Boully

I think corporations have way too much power and they squash the little guy. 


Last week in a federal district courtroom in northwestern United States, Juror #4 shared some of the most transparent and scathing opinions of American corporations ever to bounce off a courtroom wall.  Just as his cutting remarks were starting to gain steam, the judge cut him off mid-sentence and promptly dismissed him from the courtroom for cause.  Jurors’ anti-corporate bias is nothing new.  And it is no real surprise to encounter a juror who believes in corporate deception and conspiracy – after all, “Corporations are what’s wrong with this county.”  The twist in this civil jury trial came from a slightly different place.  The court heard Juror #4’s comments no sooner than the Defendant’s brief oral voir dire, and if not for defense counsel’s targeted voir dire question, would never have heard it at all.


The lesson is clear.  Once you’ve identified the highest risk attitudes and opinions for your case, do not refuse to ask jurors bluntly and openly about them for fear an honest response will poison your panel.  Ask the question.  Make sure jurors tell you the answer.  You need to know how bad it is.  Continue reading

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