Motivating the Modern Juror: Video Taped Testimony

It is a question that many people may have who work in the court of law: How do we motivate the modern juror? Michael Maggiano has set out and posed many questions that answer just this, and many more fundamental questions dealing with modern day jurors and their importance to the courts. But first, here is a little backstory on why this is so important based on research that Maggiano has conducted: To understand modern jurors, you have to look at the courts and our generation as a whole. This is why Maggiano set out to work with jury researchers, focus groups, and more to conduct his important research on the matter.
The modern jurors are typically known as Generation X’ers, or people who were born between the years 1966 and 1976. As of this point in time, 30% of all jurors were born in this time period and it is expected to be that 50% of jurors will be Generation X’ers in the next five years. One important thing to remember about this generation is that 45% of them are children of divorce and believe in being their own individual, follow diverse ways of life, and accept all cultures and ethnic groups. Many of these same people live at home for a longer time, possibly having close ties with the family that they live with. Usually, the parents of Generation X’ers rely on their parents for help and even financial assistance at times – however, in the future, it is expected that these same young adults will take full responsibility for their aging parents because they admire them more than anybody else.

What Does This Mean to the Courts?

Keeping all of these factors in mind, you may wonder what role Generation X’ers will play in the courtroom, whether good or bad. You may be wondering if, based off of the qualities that make up many Generation X’ers, they are an easier audience to speak to. The answer is: Only if you have the right message. Some of these X’ers will be tough jurors to break, sometimes being a bit callous or indifferent toward the case itself. This may come from the fact that many of them have learned independence at an early age to take care of themselves, according to sociologists. Remember – most of these adults have come of age during the Reagan-Busch era of severe cutbacks in social welfare programs, which means that they were taught to look out for themselves and nobody else. One of the upsides to this is that many of them are better educated and informed than previous generations.

However, this of course means that there will be downsides to their presence as jurors in an actual courtroom. This generation will look for what is most practical in many situations and have very little patience toward others when they do not. They are intolerant of the Baby Boomer philosophy of rooting for the underdog and against the evils of corporate America. What may be a challenge or a downside is the fact that they are doubters, which means that they may not take things at face value. This is why it is important for them to always be presented with concrete information so that they have a better understanding of what they are hearing.

The fact is: You must be prepared for these jurors to have specific “attitude problems.” Many of them will be cynical when faced with a case in the courtroom. They have prepared themselves for these situations and they are not fond of them. This is because modern times have made people from that generation think this way: They are used to being pandered every day, whether it is by commercials they see on the television, watching the President speak, or people they are close to in their everyday lives. They have learned that ‘even though people have said it, this does not automatically make it true.’ This is why they understand the importance of the concrete proof and will not accept anything less.

Videotaping Deposition and Why it is a Good Idea

Specifically, videotaped deposition may be best for Generation X’ers. This may have to do with the technological era they have grown up in and how technology helps them learn and experience the reality of a situation. They will learn best when interesting storylines are presented to them in crisp, vivid multimedia environments. Flat out standing and reciting facts will not do much more these jurors; instead, they will become bored and may even turn against you even if it is wrong. Hearing a real, live human story through live testimony or video can make all the difference. This is why trial videos should be designed, like all trial presentations, to manage the meaning and not only facts.

In fact, many good trial lawyers all over the country agree that taking all depositions as videotape depositions is a concrete idea. Here are some of the main reasons why a videotape deposition is actually the best idea:

  • Accurate Preservation of Testimony: The testimony of the witness during a videotape deposition will always be true and accurately preserved. A regular deposition will not show tone of voice, mannerisms, attitude, demeanor, hesitation of response, or the poise of the witness, all of which become extremely important during a deposition.
  • Accurate Prediction of Trial Testimony: The trial advocate will be given a very accurate prediction of how the witness will act when they are at trial. Many people are surprised to see, when depositions are not videotaped, a completely different person on paper than appears in court.
  • Vague and Obscure Answers Generally Eliminated: The reason why most people do not give “I don’t know” answers when they are being videotaped is because it feels as if they are actually talking to a judge or jury when they are looking into the camera. They may feel more inclined to give straightforward answers.
  • Shenanigans Eliminated: If a juror is more likely to play games with attorneys in depositions, videotaping deposition can eliminate this likelihood in most cases. In regular deposition, a witness may look to the lawyer – when it is being videotaped, they know they are on camera and will not do this.
  • Judge and Juror Appreciation: Jurors believe that reading a lengthy deposition is boring and is a bit old-fashioned, videotaping being the modern form of this.
  • Impeachment Intensity Increased: Courts have authority to impeach prior deposition testimony when videotape excerpts come into play.
  • Witnesses’ Activities Captured: Sometimes, witnesses are asked to do specific asks like point to a place on their body or draw sketches of a scene. This becomes preserved much more easily when videotape comes into play.
  • Demonstrative Evidence Utilization: When these methods are used, a witness will “demonstrate” with medical illustrations, video and computer animations, and models. This can be shown on videotape as well.
  • Point Made: When videotape depositions take place, a lawyer and witness alike will tend to “get to the point” much faster. When videotape depositions take place, there is less time wasted.
  • Lawyer Preparation Enhanced: Lawyers will typically tend to get better prepared. Because of better preparation, there is a higher likelihood that the case will be settled earlier. This can be quite the advantage.
  • Opposition Attention-Getter: When the deposition is videotapes, the opposition will know that you are very serious about litigation. It shows that an effort is being put into the process.
  • Atmosphere Change: Compared to a regular deposition, the atmosphere may change greatly. This type of deposition may be more formal, intense, and serious. It will be taken seriously as a result.

Videotaping a deposition is a more modern idea in many ways, and one that may appeal to jurors of the Generation X. However, it may also stem much further than this. People may realize that videotaping a deposition brings all-around more favorable results and should always be considered.