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Stack and Sway: The New Science of Jury Consulting


Stack and Sway: The New Science of Jury Consulting

Neil J. Kressel and Dorit F. Kressel attempt to expose the mystical
field of jury consulting in STACK AND SWAY: The New Science Of Jury
Consulting. Claiming to remain neutral while presenting cases both
famous and infamous, Kressel and Kressel clearly state their bias
towards jury consulting early in the book and conclude with a plea
for juries to take back the courtrooms of America.

STACK AND SWAY relays a lengthy, thorough history of the creation
of jury consulting, which is loosely defined as the ability "to
construct profiles of the most desirable and the least desirable
jurors." This "jury science" has been called, according to the
authors, "a form of high-tech jury-rigging," declaring it no more
acceptable than cruder means of jury tampering. Are juries
intelligent enough to handle life-and-death cases, or is the work
of a jury consultant critical to lessen the inherent risk of a
juror (or jurors) making decisions simply based on how they feel?
The authors contend that the stacking and swaying of American
juries is done simply to overcome the biased view of attorneys and
others in the legal profession that they alone possess the
knowledge to view facts dispassionately and arrive at cogent, fair
and impartial decisions about cases. In a world where performance
could literally mean the difference between acquittal and death,
the authors contend that jury consultants are nothing more than the
puppeteers who tie the strings on the 12 marionettes that fill the
jury box.

We are introduced yet again to the names of O. J. Simpson, Rodney
King, and Louise Woodward, and the what-ifs of introducing various
jury mixes in order to change the outcomes of their cases.
Unfortunately, the total range of cases examined by the authors do
not vary much from what the reader would be familiar with from the
newspaper or television news, which is disappointing; cases that
actually engaged consultants for either the prosecution or the
defense are discussed haphazardly and infrequently throughout the

Insights into former attorneys, judges, and scholars who have
ventured into jury consulting as a career as well as schools who
are introducing jury consulting classes and majors into their
curricula are also discussed. The industry is burgeoning, according
to the authors, and there are no real measures of the effectiveness
of using a consultant in a case.

Neil Kressel is a social psychologist who has an extensive teaching
curriculum vitae, and Dorit Kressel earned her Juris Doctorate from
Fordham University in New York. Their combined style in this book
is redolent with lecturing and presenting final arguments. STACK
AND SWAY is a tedious book to read as Kressel and Kressel attempt
to first lend credence to a dubious profession in order to make
their pitch to educate and edify the average Joe Juryman seem more
appealing. However, if you are the type who couldn't turn away from
"Court TV" when the Menendez brothers were on trial, then this book
is for you.

Reviewed by Chuck Tyler on June 2, 2011

Stack and Sway: The New Science of Jury Consulting
Neil J. Kressel and Dorit F. Kressel

  • Publication Date: September 21, 2001
  • Genres: Nonfiction
  • Hardcover: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • ISBN-10: 0813397723
  • ISBN-13: 9780813397726