These are challenging times for those of us who represent and defend corporations in litigation. The recent criminal convictions of Enron’s Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling only confirm what we have known for quite some time — jurors are skeptical of, and even hostile toward, corporations and corporate executives.

But in order to formulate an effective defense strategy, it is important to understand why jurors hold these attitudes. Dr. Ross Laguzza, a jury consultant with R&D Strategic Solutions, explains that jurors are rarely motivated by anger: “In all the conversations I have had with real and surrogate jurors who are punitive, I would estimate that less than 10 percent were ever punishing out of anger.” Instead, he says, jurors are motivated by fear: “Many people are afraid of an unsafe world and look to those who appear to be powerful to protect them from risk. Large corporations are perceived to have the resources necessary to accurately predict the future and stave off unwanted risks.” When jurors see a big company that has failed to protect others, or has used its immense power to harm others, fear drives their decision.

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