The Center for Innovative Thinking takes a groundbreaking approach to improving the jury process by applying proven methods of success in business, to the courtroom. The world’s most successful business leaders have long been influenced by Fair and Just Deliberations Methods.
As Executive Director of The Center for Innovative Thinking, Grant Todd specializes in the development of knowledge processes that produce innovative thinking and collaboration. The evolution of The Center for Innovative Thinking came from Mr. Todd’s personal experience as a presiding juror, where he witnessed firsthand the need for strong group interaction skills in the deliberation process.
The Fair and Just Deliberations process takes the successful thinking methods Mr. Todd has used as a catalyst to solve problems in corporate America, and applied them to the judicial system.
In the simplest terms, an issue is approached from a selected sequence of directions, and through a shared “language” offering a practical collaborative approach for thinking through methods of separating fact from emotion, results in neutral information biased opinion.
Incorporating Fair and Just Deliberations is a simple, practical and effective process for judges, jurors, and alternative dispute mediators to think through facts and testimonies. The ability to sift through information in order to separate emotion and other biases that can block thinking, will lead to high quality thinking and high quality decisions.
Now for the first time, the United States justice system can tap into the Fair and Just Deliberations facilitation process presented by Grant Todd.
Overview of the Deliberation Skills Program
The history of deliberations, specifically, jury trials, cites a range of issues and outcomes such as hung juries and long, expensive deliberations to an extremely negative manifestation. Consider the case in which a jury seated in a Kentucky court room were reduced to flipping a coin to determine the verdict out of frustration and because the traditional process of discussion and conclusion were not working.
The Spiral of Unmanaged Conflict
1. The problem emerges: Difficulty getting organized. Can easily arise when there is no shared or accepted procedure and process for discussion.
2. Sides form, positions solidify: Lack of process leads to preliminary poll for verdict. “Us” versus “them” positioning takes priority.
3. Communication comes to a halt: Adversarial tone triggers reluctant behavior in some participants.
4. Conflict widens: Tension increases as sides are pitted against each other.
5. Perception becomes distorted: The issues of the case become clouded and confused by distractive confrontation.
6. Sense of crisis emerges: Confrontation escalates as reason dissipates.
7. Various negative outcomes occur: Individual jurors refuse to participate. Verdict cannot be reached. Verdict is railroaded through. Ingenuous verdict results.
While there are a number of jury improvement initiatives being studied and implemented across the court system, the actual organization of a group discussion is receiving little to no attention.
It is understandable that neither the presiding judge nor the prosecution and defense want or will accept any external influences that could affect the behavior of a juror or jury or be grounds for a mistrial or reversible verdict. It is also reasonable to expect that better preparation for deliberation through jury training would facilitate a more efficient process, a higher quality decision and a better experience for the juror. In addition, better preparation will offer a solution to the costly, time-consuming manifestations that often result in mistrials and retrials.
The fact is the actual jury interaction has not been experienced by most of those in authority over the system. In most cases, the administration of the jury system does not have a clear understanding of what actually transpires inside the jury venue or what can be done to improve it.
The jury selection process almost always assures that the jurors are strangers to each other. Compounding this social awkwardness is an increased diversity in culture, education and the use of the English language. Few jurors are experienced in group-dynamics, and their attempt to bring order to the group brings resistance.