Do You Have Attention Deficit Disorder?

Watch the Video and see if you can keep track of how many times the ball is passed before you read on.

What was the result? Not what you expected?  Maybe you have seen this video before.  But if you haven’t, what a powerful lesson about the unreliability of our own senses the video conveys.  If someone told you there was gorilla in the video, you would have said no way.  If you were the one who saw it and tried to convince a group of people about what you saw, would you be able to? You might say, “Sure I would, I know what I saw”.

But studies suggest you would probably go with the flow and say there was no gorilla.  In the well studied Asch conformity tests, participants were placed in a room with other ‘participants’ who were not really participants but confederates of the researchers.  The group was given a line of a given length and then told to identify from a selection of other lines, which one resembled the original line most closely in length.  Without going into too much detail, when the group of confederates gave the wrong answer, the participate went along with it  most of the time! Even though they could clearly see with their own eyes that the line was not the same length.  Does that make you think about what you would do if you think you saw a gorilla, but 11 other people say the didn’t?

What does this have to do with law?  Everything.  There is the obvious connection to recent research that eyewitness testimony is unreliable.  It shows how if a jury focuses on one issue (the bouncing ball) they might completely miss the critical fact that proves your case (the gorilla).  But perhaps most importantly it shows how even when presented with evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, a juror might agree with the group and vote against that evidence.

Think of it this way, in any sport there are a thousand different distractions that an athlete could be thinking about.  Sometimes you can see those distractions take over when the 5 year old runs off to chase a butterfly instead of playing the game. A trial is no different than a sporting event.  Ask anyone who has done one, its mentally and physically exhausting.  I speak from experience when I say that a trial exhaustion increases exponentially when it spans over a few days.  And when you’re exhausted, your judgment suffers.

The same goes for jurors.  They have to listen to witnesses drone on and judges read lengthy, monotonous, technical instructions about something that doesn’t personally affect them instead of being out working or relaxing.

So make sure your attorney doesn’t contribute to the distraction.  Find an attorney who can separate the important from the unimportant.  Whether they have learned how to do that through experience, or maybe they have a natural ability.  What you want is someone who doesn’t put up with any monkey business.

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