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Drilling Down Into Fact Finder Perceptions in Energy Litigation: New Trends in Effective Persuasion

Shelley C. Spiecker, 61st Annual Institute Proceedings (2015)

The American Bar Association (ABA) has noted for over 10 years that the civil jury trial is vanishing in the United States. Northwestern School of Law Professor Robert P. Burns noted that less than 2% of federal civil cases ended in a trial in 2002. While few civil cases are tried by juries today, many jury trials are of high significance for any number of reasons. This chapter first discusses the role of public perception in litigation and then lays out six “best practices” for trying cases in today’s public opinion environment.
§ 4.02 Role of Public Opinion in Litigation
Public opinion of a particular client or industry as a whole can have a big impact in litigation. Accompanying high stakes trials is the need to leverage the most applicable and research-based strategies for persuading jurors in those cases that do proceed to trial. By way of example, this section gives an overview of the current state of the public’s opinion of the energy industry and the impacts this has on jury decision making in energy litigation.
[1] Overview of the Energy Industry from the Public’s Perception
While public opinion of the energy industry has softened slightly over the past few years, there is still more negativity than positivity toward the industry. The attention cast upon energy companies and energy issues by the media sometimes contributes to this negative opinion. Dif