What attorneys ought to learn about Reptile Idea


Courtroom attorneys have an array of techniques at their disposal when making an attempt to sway a jury to their aspect of a case. A few of these approaches are rooted in tutorial theories whereas others rely closely on rhetoric and psychology. In nearly each case, although, the strategy is meticulously deliberate out and strategically deployed with one aim in thoughts: win in any respect prices.

One such tactic, “Reptile Idea,” has notably drawn the eye of authorized students and attorneys for each its rising prominence and relative controversy. Right here, we’ll break down among the key parts of the strategy, assess its true worth, and contemplate methods to fight its utility.

What’s the Reptile Idea?

The Reptile Idea technique hinges on jurors’ so-called “reptilian” area of the thoughts, which is biologically delicate to hazard. The idea will be attributed to ex-theatrical director, David Ball and plaintiff lawyer Don Keenan, as described of their guide Reptile: The 2009 Guide of the Plaintiff’s Revolution.

The technique works in two separate phases. First, a juror have to be introduced with the concept that a defendant is, actually, harmful. Then, the lawyer’s job is to persuade that juror it’s inside their energy to assist mitigate this hazard by taking motion. This may be finished, naturally, by awarding large damages to the plaintiff.

The Stetson Journal of Advocacy and the Regulation famous, “… if a juror is positioned able the place she or he feels threatened, anxious, or probably susceptible to hurt, that juror is more likely to react. That is, at its most elementary core, the underlying mechanic behind the Reptile. As a substitute of using jurors with cause and logic to achieve the specified conclusion, the Reptile takes a linear path on to a juror’s feelings by displaying a juror the top outcome and offering a prism via which all proof introduced at trial could also be seen.”

Primarily, the Reptile Strategy suggests jurors ought to award damages to punish defendants whereas deterring different presumed unhealthy actors. Generally, attorneys will recommend that with out a “correct” verdict that includes an “acceptable” punishment, the hazard dealing with the general public will really be worsened.

What in regards to the “Golden Rule?”

As mentioned above, Reptile Idea depends closely on the concept jurors will be swayed utilizing hypothetical inquiries geared toward theoretically stopping future hurt. Many authorized students discover this observe predatory and infrequently criticize it for its perceived use as a skirt on “Golden Rule” argument prohibitions.

The Golden Rule includes asking jurors to place themselves within the place of an injured particular person or sufferer. By doing so, they’re then extra inclined to ship a bigger, extra favorable award to a plaintiff. Nevertheless, this tactic has been rejected by many as improper, and in some situations is outright banned.

For instance, in U.S. v. Palma, the Eighth Circuit held a golden rule argument is “universally condemned as a result of it encourages the jury to depart from neutrality and to determine the case on the premise of non-public curiosity and bias relatively than on the proof.” On the whole, that is one thing you wish to keep away from in a correctly functioning authorized area.

What does Reptile Idea appear like in observe?

Reviewing the Stetson Journal once more, let’s contemplate some questions which may seem in a case the place the plaintiff’s lawyer is using Reptile Idea. On this occasion, think about the case includes torts pertaining to a motorized vehicle accident that includes a industrial driver.

Questions geared toward tapping into our “reptile mind” may appear like: “You’ll agree with me that failing to look each methods earlier than pulling into an intersection unnecessarily endangers the general public and neighborhood?” or “You’ll agree with me that the failure to repeatedly scan the roadway whereas driving needlessly endangers the general public?”

The phrases “unnecessarily” and “needlessly” are prominently included within the inquiries. It is a tell-tale signal you could possibly be head-to-head towards a reptile argument; and one of the best ways to counter the speculation is to determine its utility as shortly as you’ll be able to and reintroduce the jury to objectivity and the info of the case.

All advised, there are higher methods to win than by deploying Reptile Idea. Having confidence within the integrity of your work is simply one of many areas we cowl in our white paper, “Three Traits that Make for an Unmatched Legal professional.“

Armed with correct preparation and the instruments wanted to ship to your shopper, you’ll be primed for a profitable argument each time – even when opposing counsel tries to snake chew you with a Reptile Idea assault!


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