Jurors have psychologically adjusted to hearing large damage awards due to the level of coverage and publicity that such verdicts receive in the media. A juror’s individual evaluation of proper damages is often strongly influenced by the figures a plaintiff’s counsel presents. The jurors will have a range of damage awards which they see as appropriate and are willing to consider as proposals. If the plaintiff’s counsel can present a figure which is within the juror’s acceptable range, the likelihood of a favorable verdict is much greater. If an alternative figure is presented by the defense, the juror will still use the plaintiff’s figure for comparison.
A juror’s assessment of what is an appropriate damage can vary greatly. The juror’s personal attitudes and experiences have the greatest impact on their decision. For this reason, jury research is extremely vital to the case. The defense will attempt to ascertain whether the candidate will be a punitive or non-punitive juror. By understanding the jury, the defense can better strategize their case.
There is no single criterion which can be used to identify punitive jurors. However, there are trends. Those who have experienced a recent trauma such as a separation, divorce, violent crime, or loss of a loved one tend to be more punitive. Also, jurors who feel that they have been victims of injustice such as at work as much more likely to award higher damages. Lastly, jurors who have an authoritarian personality are more likely to be punitive as they have low levels of tolerance for ambiguity and prefer to perceive things as black and white.