Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Dr.Strangelove Tries A Case

I have a confession to make: I've had several verdicts in excess of one million dollars. In each case, I had no idea that the jury would make the awards. I still don't why the juries did. I've lost cases I thought I should have won, and won cases I thought I would lose. Juries seem unpredictable to me. They scare me; you plead your case and then hold on for dear life.

It turns out I am just ignorant. It's all a science, you see. The secret springs of juror conduct can be deciphered. Winning is mere technique. It can be taught. It's all in the neuroscience, you see.

Do you want to be a millionaire? Do you want floor seats at Lakers' games? Your own driver? More money than you know what to do with? Hell, you could even take these persuasive powers and run for office. Become mayor of your town. Perhaps run for Congress. Hey, think big. Start your own religion.

I'm not kidding. I was just sent a copy of a new advertisement for a program to take place in DuBois, Wyoming this summer. The gig will take place at Gerry Spence's ranch. Move over Gerry. There's a new kid in town. Rex Parris is going to teach the hidden science of big dollar verdicts.

For a time, Rex and I talked almost every week. Then he got rich. Now he's shooting for fame. I'm still wondering how I ever persuaded a jury to make a million dollars out of someone else's sorrow. I thought it was magic I stumbled upon without knowing how. It turns out I was wrong. I had apparently stumbled across a secret recipe without recognizing the ingredients.

I confess I still don't know either the recipe or the ingredients. But somehow, this advertisement does not entice me back to the Trial Lawyer's College. Perhaps it will entice you. If you attend, tell Rex I send my regards. I remember when he used to put his shoes on the same way I did.

I still like the taste of the Colonel's chicken. I just don't know how to whip up a batch of deep-fried pleasure.

Rex wins one big verdict after another. I am jealous. He is big enough to share his secrets. Somehow I don't think it is as simple as this ad makes it sound. At least I hope it's not. Imagine turning up to jury selection in your next cases wearing a lab coat. What would the jurors think? Dr. Strangelove earns a J.D.?

To: Trial Lawyers College
Subject: [TLC] Rex Parris to present at Grad I -- message from Joey Low

Fellow Warriors: For Grad I, Rex Parris has agreed to come for several days to work with people using his methods that he has perfected to get his monster verdicts. He and his staff will be here for approximately two days presenting a variety of new techniques designed to enhance the art of persuasion. Please join us. We have about 10 more spaces and then Grad I, like Grad II already is, will be full!


Cognitive scientists have discovered more about how we love, how we are motivated, and how we think, in the last 10 years, than in the last 3000. Bringing this knowledge into the courtroom is what this presentation is about.

What really motivates juries to act decisively? Why will they “not deny” an injured plaintiff millions of dollars in future care, but will refuse to “give” it to them? How can computer algorithms guide us in jury selection, and help us predict how they will decide our case? How do we keep potential jurors and witnesses talking, without us saying a word?

These are just some of the questions that will be addressed in this presentation. Cognitive scientists are unlocking the mysteries of persuasion. The trial attorneys who master these skills will be the ones we read about in the coming years.

We look forward to working with you at the Thunderhead Ranch this summer!