The Legal Advocate

A blog brought to you by the national institute for trial advocacy

All posts by Karen M. Lockwood

About Karen M. Lockwood

Karen is the Executive Director at the National Institute for Trial Advocacy. Karen brings the insights and creativity rooted in serving corporate and business clients, first-chairing numerous jury and bench trials, and arguing appeals. Her specialty areas have included construction litigation, large disaster cases, multi-party commercial disputes involving all types of contracts, antitrust, trademark and copyright, and ADR.

September 2014 Executive Director’s Letter: Speaking of Bias in the Courtroom . . .

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Lockwood_KarenImplicit bias – the silent judgment-maker that we are not aware of in a jury, our courtroom, our witnesses, our judge, our selves.

On August 19, 2014, I presented a free NITA Webinar on how important it is for a trial lawyer to understand implicit bias. And to learn to recognize where it might lurk.

On November 7, 2014, NITA is presenting a full 90-minute CLE on this important subject, dealing directly with the question, “what does a lawyer do about implicit bias in the courtroom?” Join us at the Annual Convention of NAPABA – the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association. (NAPABA members, sign up now here.)

Why? This is a subject that, like NITA’s mission itself, directly affects the quality of justice. It affects “both sides of the courtroom.” To be clear, I am not talking about lawyers who litigate discrimination cases. I am talking about all of us – no matter the side, the practice, the claim, or the faith that we ourselves are unbiased.

Lawyers who seek a deep understanding of implicit bias will better represent their client, better handle the sometimes messy give-and-take of witness examination and credibility, and have a better shot at justice. Here is why:

  • Many of us are sure that we do not discriminate, we are fair. Good; so far as our behavior is concerned that is essential.
  • Some of us, further, are savvy to our own implicit biases. Those lawyers develop “stops” to check their judgments, decisions, and behavior in order to negate their biases. They are more ready for the courtroom.
  • Not a single one of us can erase the implicit biases we now own. They are our bear, looming behind us, making judgments for us that we are unaware of. (Some are good biases—embedded in the fight or flight center of our brains.) Many are destructive biases, changing perceptions, shortchanging objective judgment, instilling fear.

Since every human brain on earth relies on it to act quickly and “intuitively,” it follows that implicit bias joins all the players in the courtroom. Those of us who seek justice through advocacy are dealing with implicit bias throughout every witness examination, for example. Is the witness expressing a judgment, or recalling “events” changed by an unconscious reaction rooted in bias at the time of the event? Is implicit bias active in the discourse or conduct of counsel?

More to the point: a woman advocate wonders what underlies the behaviors and judgments directed her way. An African-American advocate in a North American courtroom sees some typical signs of bias and wonders how to deal with them. A witness is apparently confused by a racially biased perception, and the cross-examiner wonders whether to tread into the area, and how.

Of course, implicit bias is a topic much broader than “grouping” stereotypes: broader than gender, race, LGBT individuality, profession of religion, ethnicity, etc. But these visible and invisible differences among groupings of people are rife with stereotypes that predictably harm justice.

Reading more always raises our own awareness. And thus earns us some savvy thinking time as we consider ways to defuse negative implicit bias in the courtroom. You can start here: the first starts slow, using study testing implicit biases other than “grouping” stereotypes.

Impartial experts (expert conclusions on propensity for repeat offenses of sexual violence varied with whether prosecution or defense retained the expert )

DecisionQuest summary for ABA (implicit bias issues in jurors, counsel, judges).

Kang et. al article at UCLA (team of academics, scientists, researchers & federal judge seek ansers: “what if anything should we do about implicit bias in the courtroom”);

NITA free Webinar introducing the subject for trial lawyers (implicit bias in courtroom, “what and why / see it and address it”)

NAPABA Convention, Convergence of Bias and Reason on November 7, 2014 from 9:15am - 10:30am

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Karen M. Lockwood, Esq.
President and Executive Director
National Institute for Trial Advocacy

Jim Carrigan Memorial Service Notice

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Please join family and friends of Jim Carrigan for a memorial service in celebration of his life next week at CU Law School.  Below are the details with date, location and times.  Friends in the NITA community that live afar, please keep Jim’s loved ones in your thoughts.

Jim Carrigan Memorial Service
August 28, 2014
Wolf Law Building
2450 Kittredge Loop Road
Boulder, CO 80309

Time: 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Event: Public Memorial Service
Location: Wittemyer Courtroom

Time: 6:30 p.m.
Event: Private Memorial Reception
Location: Second Floor Cafe

Please RSVP at the CU LAW Link – www.colorado.edu/law/carrigan
See earlier post below for the full tribute to Jim Carrigan.

A Tribute to Jim Carrigan

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jimCarriganIf you ever had the chance to meet Jim Carrigan, consider yourself lucky to have been in the presence of such a humble, respected, kind, and educated man.  Jim was described as a remarkable human in all aspects of his life.  One of our founding friends and brilliant lawyer, judge, and leader, Jim Carrigan passed away at his Boulder home Friday afternoon.  Although the last years were difficult given his health, such a loss jars no matter how much anticipated.

His beloved wife Bev, family, and loved ones gathered in his remembrance over the weekend.  Those who gathered were sad to lose him and joyful to speak of his brilliance, humanity, compassion, humility, and faith. Beyond that, and uniquely Carrigan—at the funeral and in conversation—the thoughts honored his insight into justice, what justice requires, and how much injustice exists that is to be addressed and reversed.

Throughout his work in private practice, being a law professor, and becoming a U.S. district court judge, his professional accomplishments are highly known and respected.  He paired this with his love for education, love for Colorado, and most especially love for his family to leave a lasting mark on people’s lives and on the legal community.  We will have more to offer in memory of Jim, his force, and insights that NITA can draw from the examples and lessons he provided.  To carry his virtues forward is our task.

A continued posting will contain further details about contributing in his remembrance and shared thoughts from the NITA community about Judge Carrigan’s influence and impact.

For a more in-depth look at the celebration of his wonderful life, read further in the article from the Daily Camera and a detailed obituary.  A public memorial service will be held at the University of Colorado Wolf Law Building at a date and time to be determined.

August 2014 Executive Director’s Letter. NITA Growth and Accomplishments: Excitement Expressed to “Headquarters”

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In July, I asked you what “real people” activities you were planning for August. While you are in the middle of enjoying those activities (and we’d like to hear about them ), I hope you will enjoy our news about happy developments here at Boulder “headquarters.” (We pay attention also to being “real people,” enjoying homemade barbecue—thank you, Gary Pope, our HR director—and grilled burgers in the Rocky Mountain sun, as you can see in the staff party photos.)

I am happy to receive a wonderful crescendo of nice comments and interested new members of our network. We are witnessing the continued growth of NITA and the spread of NITA enthusiasm. You are part of making that happen.

We thank you for keeping NITA top of mind when talking with your lawyer colleagues and friends, for checking in with our news and opportunities on nita.org and on Facebook. Those who know us well already experience what I call “NITA Love”—a devotion that lasts a lifetime, thanks to the transformation from experiencing a live program. Talk about that transformation and unique experience, wherever you are!

Here are some more things you can talk about.

  • 2014 Award for Outstanding Achievement in Programs, awarded by ACLEA for our 2013 innovations using pre-recorded lectures to allow more time learning in-person “by doing” and NITA-quality critiquing. Press Release 8-12-2014
  • Outstanding, newly designed Annual Report released in early June. We are in our second printing! It is fun, interactive, and packed with information tied by our overarching mission. 2013 Annual Report pdf version. Contact us for your personal copy, which you will be proud to show others.
  • Year-long growth in public program enrollments continues through the summer. Focus your friends and colleagues on September through December—spaces are filling, and it is very helpful to sign up early and have time to prepare! We are now expanding program attendance limits as they exceed the planned size, so encourage latecomers call us to try to get in.
  • Urgent sign-up programs: Boston Deposition, September 12-14; Seattle Trial, September 2-7; Complete Advocate (Minnesota), September 13-19; Hanley Advanced Trial (San Francisco), September 15-19.
  • The complete program list and links through December 2014, in chronological order, is at nita.org/programs. You can navigate to “view all programs” or click here to find the August-December list. NITA programs 2014 chron
  • Planning the program lineup for 2015. We announce it in early fall, and are working to continue our fresh and ready, high-quality standards for all programs across the nation. Stay tuned online.
  • “Global impact.” That is how we describe the work that we turn attention to outside the fifty states. We understand the tight connection between skilled advocacy in fair justice systems and the rule of law. More interest is coming in from countries in important regions on all continents. We regard all with great attention and engage where we will have impact.
  • Handsome array of eBooks. Taking our unique and intensely useful publications onto our eBookstore, we are proud of the facile and attractive offerings of these electronic versions for Kindle and Apple devices. You may purchase our print publications from the website as well. If you are linking with LexisNexis, you will find paths to the print publications directly from there as well.
  • NITA Awards! We couldn’t do it without our stellar, imaginative, and devoted faculty members. Among the many, we receive many nominations for our three annual awards. This year the awardees are Jim McCrystal (Cleveland), Ben Rubinowitz (New York), Beth Sher (New York), and Dan Toomey. Thank you again, Jim, Ben, Beth, and Dan for all that you do—it is done with great talent! In case you missed the Press Release, click here. NITA Award Winners!

A unique free webcast next Tuesday, August 19, will address an important subject to us all and one that matters to every lawyer in court: bias in the courtroom. It promises to be an interesting focus on a subject that is always at play but that is subtle enough to miss. I hope to see you there! Sign up here: Bias in the Courtroom: What and Why / See It and Address It.

Much of the news I gather here appears in greater detail on our blog pages. Notice that the home page of The Legal Advocate blog.nita.org/ shows “news columns” listed at the right side. The NITA Community column is particularly important for news that you wish to share with other faculty and NITA community members. Be sure to check there often—not all of those are emailed to you, so watch your favorite columns every week.

Finally—add your comments below. Hit the link, and share your good news and contributions with the NITA community. I would love to hear from you. (And remember—what are your “real people” refreshers this month?)

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Karen M. Lockwood, Esq.
President and Executive Director
National Institute for Trial Advocacy

Note of Thanks from NITA Program Director Lou Natali

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Lou Natali, our long-time Program Director, program founder, and all-around good guy, sent me the following note.  He wants our NITA community to have this follow-up note of thanks following his daughter Giana’s death in January. Please say hello to Lou and remind him that our thoughts for him endure.

We had a lovely ceremony on Saturday, 7/26 dedicating a bench and plaque to Giana. We asked for small donations  but there were so many and so many generous friends, we gave the $5,000 excess to Paws. We will continue  to give to Paws over the coming years to remember our love for Giana. Anyone wishing to send something (no more than $10 please) can send it to Jessica Natali at her home address 367 Forrest Ave, Elkins Park, PA 19027. Thanks to all for supporting us and to those who have made gifts. – Lou

NITA’s team of practicing lawyers, professors and judges from around the nation dedicates its efforts to the training and development of skilled and ethical legal advocates to improve the adversarial justice system. NITA's Goal is to:
  • Promote justice through effective and ethical advocacy.
  • Train and mentor lawyers to be competent and ethical advocates in pursuit of justice.
  • Develop and teach trial advocacy skills to support and promote the effective and fair administration of justice.
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