Yesterday, I sat down for an interview with Dru Sherrod.
Those who hang on my every tweet know that he gave a boffo presentation at this month’s Arizona Women Lawyers Association luncheon in Phoenix.
He is a principal at the California trial strategy firm Mattson and Sherrod Inc. Here’s his background:
“Drury Sherrod, Ph.D. joined Larry Mattson in 1988 to form Mattson and Sherrod, Inc. Dru brings a background in psychology and communication to bear on questions of juror behavior and trial strategy. Dru is the author of a textbook on social psychology and more than thirty articles on psychology, jury behavior, attribution theory and the effects of environmental stress on human behavior. Dru holds a B.A. from Southern Methodist University, an M.A. from the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, and a Ph.D. from Stanford University. Dru is a member of the American Society of Trial Consultants, the American Psychological Association, and the Society for Experimental Social Psychology.”
On March 28, he spoke on the topic of how stories explain jury verdicts.
His topic was pretty compelling, so we will run a separate Q&A with him in the June Arizona Attorney Magazine.
At his March 28 lunch talk, he revealed his true title for the day: “The Myth of the Open Mind.”
His presentation then unpackaged our common view that people are swayed by facts and by the rewards of a just result.
Um, not necessarily.
As he explains, when a lawyer walks into a courtroom prepared for trial, she may have spent more than a year dissecting every element of the case: facts, witnesses, documents.
When a juror walks in, Sherrod says, he doesn’t come empty-handed. Instead, “Jurors bring to the trial this whole lifetime of collected stored scripts.”
Those stored scripts can play havoc with what the lawyer believes is a carefully organized and orchestrated parade of facts. The scripts may cause the jurors to see the facts in ways the lawyer never imagined.
Of course, jurors are not the only ones with stored scripts; we all have them. They help us make sense of the avalanche of stimulu that comes our way on a daily basis. They are what make the human comedy the diverse thing it is. But while we may gleefully exclaim “Viva la différence,” trial lawyers scratch their heads and consider a career wind-surfing.
More on my conversation with Dru Sherrod in our June issue. And here are some more photos from his AWLA talk.Follow @azatty