Current Initiatives

Peremptories project

We are coordinating and funding a research project focused on gathering data to help defend and extend the peremptory challenge in American courtrooms. This project seeks to add to the current public debate over the value of the peremptory challenge by showing the tangible effects of the existence and use of peremptory challenges on the fairness of trials.

Improve fact finder comprehension and satisfaction

We are studying and making recommendations on more fully implementing trial reforms. The goal is to create recommendations for best practices on juror question asking, voir dire, opening statements, juror evidence notebooks, pre-instruction on specific verdict issues, neutral tutorials, glossary of terms, narrative answers, witness ordering for sequential coherence, and other methods to improve jurors’ case comprehension.

 

Improve jury selection

We are studying and making recommendations for best practices regarding the use of juror questionnaires, methods for increasing juror candor and disclosure in voir dire, the use of open ended questions in jury selection, helping define biases in order to assist courts in evaluating cause challenges, dealing with the influence of pre-trial publicity on jurors, understanding and assisting with juror stress in highly emotional trials, and creating best practice procedures to make jury selection more efficient while increasing the quality of information that judges and attorneys use to seat a jury. We are also working with court administrators and judges to increase juror show rates while reducing juror excuses for hardship. All of these practices are geared toward making jury service a more positive experience.

 

Improve litigation and trial efficiency including information management and organization protocols

Efficiency in the courts can be increased through the creation of discovery and case management plans that encourage litigants to focus more accurately on the salient dispute issues. By creating organizational plans to map out which witnesses are needed to testify on the relevant dispute issues, and providing recommendations on the categorization and prioritization of evidence, pre-trial plans can be created to ensure that counsel will meet prescribed time allotments and that their trial presentations translate into meaningful evidence and issues for the judge and jury.