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Negotiating Jury Verdicts: Apologies Work with Twelve People Good and True

A big thank you to local mediator Steve Mehta for

Apology Infuences Jury Verdicts, New Study Finds excerpted below and click here for full post.

By Steven G. MehtaSteve Mehta

A big question in trial for lawyers to consider is whether to apologize for their client’s “alleged” conduct.  Many lawyers are reluctant to do so under the theory that it could lead to a greater chance of liability being imposed on them.  Recent research sheds light on this issue.

According to researchers at George Mason University and Oklahoma State University apologizing to a jury may lead more favorable results. The results of the study will be available in a the journal Contemporary Accounting Research.

Assistant accounting professors Rick Warne of Mason and Robert Cornell of OSU found that apologizing can result in lower frequencies of negligence verdicts in cases when compared to a control group receiving no apology or remedial message. The researchers hypothesized that apologies allow the accused wrongdoer to express sorrow or regret about a situation without admitting guilt. Alternatively, a first-person justification allows the accused to indicate the appropriateness of decisions given the information available when decisions were made.

“We found that apologies reduce the jurors’ need to assign blame to the [wrongdoer] for any negative outcomes to the client,” says Warne. “It also appears that an apology “influences the jurors impression that the auditor’s actions were reasonable and in accordance with professional standards.”

Continue reading here.

 

Comments (5)

Read through and enter the discussion by using the form at the end
steve mehta - October 7, 2009 8:36 PM

Thanks for reading my post. I am glad that you liked the post. Very interesting research lately on apologies.

Timothy R. Hughes - October 7, 2009 10:05 PM

A fascinating post. Instinctively, I would have guessed that this would generally be correct, however it is tremendous to have statistical analysis bearing out those instincts.

Vickie Pynchon - October 8, 2009 1:58 PM

Thanks for dropping by Tim. This is the easiest blog to "write" - just excerpting something really good from a colleague and sending you to his site for the full read.

I believe people are SCREAMING for accountability right now. By corporations, insurance carriers, the government, and our friends and neighbors. The culture of blame is OUT; the culture of responsibility is IN.

That's good for all of us and particularly good news for lawyers wishing to settle their litigation early and often to the benefit of their clients in this rough economy.

Michael Carbone - October 15, 2009 12:31 PM

"Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong." Mohandas Gandhi

Business Communication - October 21, 2009 2:26 PM

Good study. Dale Carnegie's principles at work too- when you apologize, make it swift and do it emphatically. Next, you work on getting things corrected. That is usually the first thing the injured party wants- some kind of concession and it doesn't have to be a total admission of guilt.

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