I was a panelist today at a conference of defense lawyers here in Wisconsin. The topics included pre-trial and trial issues that both sides of the Bar encounter. One panelist, a defense lawyer, started talking about a case where the plaintiffs' lawyer said, in voir dire, that he would be asking for $5,000,000 at the end of the case. His question, for us plaintiff guys, was why did he do that?
I, being the quiet one, blurted out "anchoring." He looked puzzled, but moved on. Later, the discussion turned to a situation he recently had where the plaintiff didn't put in the medical bills. I asked what they were, he told me, they were under $2,000. he asked us plaintiff guys why he would do that, as he found it odd. I again blurted out "anchoring." I then related a story of how a friend of mine recently tried a case and didn't put in the medical bills, which were significant, but not eye opening significant. The jury returned a verdict of $22,000,000. he told me that he didn't put in the bills because he didn't want to anchor the verdict too low. Good move, Jim.
Anyways, defense lawyer, who has been around close to 40 years, turns to me and says "where can I find out more about this anchoring stuff?"
What's the point? The point is, I think those of you who come to AAJ programs, learn about juror bias, learn about juror attitudes, learn about the psychology of jurors and do focus groups, are way ahead of our defense brothers and sisters.
Have a good weekend.