Calif. Jury Finds For Flu Remedy Maker In False Ad Trial
A California federal jury on Thursday ruled against a class of consumers alleging that Boiron Inc. misled them into buying a homeopathic remedy that didn’t provide relief for flu symptoms as advertised, rejecting claims that Boiron’s product was nothing more than a sugar pill.
Thursday’s verdict, reached after less than two hours of deliberations, followed a one-week first phase of a trial over claims that Boiron violated California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act because its product, Oscillococcinum or Oscillo, cannot provide relief of flulike symptoms as its…
Recent Criminal Case Acquittal
Levine not guilty of inappropriate touching
Joshua Mark Levine, described by witnesses over the last two weeks as a “fantastic” teacher, was found not guilty Wednesday of inappropriately touching a student in his class.
Levine, a 43-year-old teacher at Castaic Elementary School, was charged with four counts of misdemeanor inappropriate touching of female students in his class during the 2014-15 school year.
The jury remained hung—with 11 jurors voting not guilty and one voting guilty—on the remaining misdemeanor counts involving the other three girls.
Levine’s lawyer, Todd Melnik, asked the court to dismiss the three unresolved charges and, when a lawyer representing the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office voiced no objection, Commissioner Jeffrey M. Harkavy dismissed the remaining three charges against Levine.
“I’m never teaching again,” a visibly shaken Levine told a welcoming crowd of family members and jurors who had gathered in the hallway of the Santa Clarita Courthouse.
“It’s so sad,” he said. “The thought of being in front of kids right now makes me shake.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” he said.
One juror called the case against Levine a witch hunt launched by educators at Castaic Elementary School.
“I had a hard time sleeping,” said the female juror. “It made me physically ill. For this man being blamed for something he did not do.
“He needs to take this further.”
The juror said she was convinced the Castaic teachers were out to get Levine.
The jury of eight women and four men spent a full day deliberating Wednesday but most of the day was spent debating the issue of sexual intent, said the jury’s foreman outside of the courtroom.
“The prosecutor didn’t bring up sexual intent,” he said. “She showed a lot of stuff that happened. It was sexual intent that was not proven.”
When the “not guilty” verdict was read, Levine began crying, his shoulders shaking.
Levine’s wife, father and mother sat shoulder-to-shoulder in the courtroom as the verdict was being read.
His attorney put an assuring hand on his client’s shoulder as the Commissioner polled each of the jurors about their being deadlocked over the three unresolved charges.
The trial lasted more than two weeks with testimony delivered by the four female students, and several educators, including current and former teachers and principals.
Detectives with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Special Victims Bureau arrested Levine on May 14, 2015.
Dr. Jo-Ellan Dimitrius interviewed for Will True-Crime Docuseries Change How Jurors Think?
Though if you ask professional jury consultants, someone plucked fresh from devouring Making a Murderer might not even make it past their first day of civic duty. “You would want to have the attorney ask: ‘How long did you watch it? With whom might you have had conversations about what you saw? Have you done anything in furtherance of your feelings about the show? For instance, some sort of social-media post,’” advises trial consultant Jo-Ellan Dimitrius, who’s helped select juries for clients representing both plaintiffs and defendants, notably including O.J. Simpson’s 1994 defense team. “By gaining that information, you’re going to get a good mind-set of [whether] they were biased in favor of Mr. Avery and against the prosecution or police.” Moreover, she projects that potential jurors’ familiarity with Making a Murderer in particular “will be a significant question on criminal cases from here on out. We used to ask those questions about CSI because it was pretty predictive of someone who was a defense-prone juror.”
Dr. Jo-Ellan Dimitrius Interview on Fox & Friends
…the Fifth Amendment guarantees a defendant a jury of their peers, which, over time has come to mean a jury that is reflective of community conscience…
Calif. Jury Clears Hyland’s In $255M False Ad Trial
A California federal jury on Friday cleared Hyland’s Inc. in a $255 million nationwide class action that alleged the company misled tens of thousands of purchasers into believing their homeopathic products were effective for various ailments.
The representative class of purchasers of seven products claim that Hyland’s, through its marketing and packaging, misrepresented its products as effective for allergies, leg cramps, migraines and sleeplessness, among others. The plaintiffs sought full refunds, totaled at $255 million.
Cunningham Not Guilty
It took the jury 3 hours to come up with their verdict. After more than 10 days of testimony, the jury found Brock Cunningham not guilty on charges of child abuse and murder in the first degree.Cunningham was on trial regarding the death of 3-year-old Natalie Pickle after an incident occurred in November 2008 that led to her death.Cunningham claimed that on November 19, 2008, Pickle had been jumping on her bed when she fell and hit her head.When he went to see what the noise was he heard…
Interview with Boston’s NPR on High-Profile Cases
Dr. Jo-Ellan Dimitrius and Robin Young discuss the difficulties involved in finding impartial jurors for high-profile cases.
Interview with KABC regarding Zimmerman Trial Jurors
Dr. Jo-Ellan Dimitrius discusses the Zimmerman trial with KABC.
Interview with BBC regarding the Boston Bomber Trial
Listen in as Dr. Jo-Ellan Dimitrius discusses the Boston Bomber Trial.
Dr. Jo-Ellan Dimitrius has been dubbed a ‘Pre Trial Pro’ by the American Bar Association
Jury consultants are changing with the times 20 years after the O.J. verdict
by Marc Davis and Kevin Davis
The nearly 20 years since a jury found O.J. Simpson not guilty of murder have left numerous marks on the national psyche and the legal profession. And for at least one area of legal services—jury consultation—that mark is a measure of rapid growth.
Jo-Ellan Dimitrius, who rose to national prominence as a jury consultant for Simpson’s criminal defense team, has seen the number of consultants rise significantly.
“A multiplicity of people have entered the profession,” says Dimitrius, founder, president and CEO of Dimitrius & Associates in Henderson, Nevada. “Jury consultants are now part of the legal culture for civil, criminal and corporate cases.”
Numbers Tell the Story
That growth is reflected in the membership of the American Society of Trial Consultants, which has expanded from fewer than 20 members in 1983 to around 300 today and publishes a magazine featuring social science research for jury consultants.
Dimitrius says her client list also has expanded since the O.J. trial. “In my practice, I’ve worked for both the plaintiff and defense sides of a trial. In corporate cases I’ve worked on everything—product liability, patent infringement, breach of contract, you name it.”
Says John O’Malley, a partner at the Los Angeles office of Fulbright & Jaworski, “I can’t imagine at this point not using jury consultants or focus groups.” He started hiring jury consultants in the 1990s.
Richard Gabriel, president of Decision Analysis in Los Angeles, worked with Dimitrius on the O.J. trial. “Certainly, the O.J. Simpson trial created a lot of awareness of what we do—and also created myths that we’re only jury pickers,” says Gabriel, author of Acquittal, a book about some of his famous cases. “Hiring consultants is also about risk evaluation.”
Gabriel studies what juries want to see, what their biases are, and how they absorb and evaluate information. “How do I make a complex case more clear and more compelling?”
Rich Matthews, a senior trial consultant with Juryology in San Francisco, agrees that the term jury consultant is a misnomer.
“What we do is so much broader than what happens with a jury. The jury selection process is the least important thing we do, but the most public,” he says. “The bigger things we do really happen before that. It’s really trying to resolve the dispute before trial.”
That’s where focus groups and mock trials come in, which have elements of jury selection. Gathering data on how people view cases, Matthews says, helps lawyers to frame those cases and build the narratives they need to make better arguments.
A big shift since the Simpson trial is how technology has changed the nature of jury research. “What we have now that we didn’t have 20 years ago to research jurors is social media, the Internet, Facebook, LinkedIn—a prospective juror’s entire social media footprint,” Dimitrius says. “We can now also conduct online focus groups. We can do an Internet search for information on prospective jurors.”
Mark Calzaretta, director of litigation consulting with Magna Legal Services in Philadelphia, says online technology helps in the selection of jurors who’d be most sympathetic to a litigant’s case.
One new and effective method of developing a potential juror’s profile—psychological, social, economic, political, educational, religious—is the online focus group, which can be done virtually anywhere instead of having to gather people in one location.
While jury consultants are working smarter, so are potential jurors. “The average juror has changed since the O.J. case,” Dimitrius says. “The average juror is more sophisticated now, more familiar with legal terms and procedures.
Because of TV shows, jurors are now more knowledgeable,” she says. “There are also websites that tell prospective jurors how to get out of jury duty.”
Originally published in the January 2015 ABA Journal.