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Countering Reptile Theory in Jury Selection: Educating, Persuading, and Overcoming Unfavorable Bias in Voir Dire

Recording of a 90-minute CLE video webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Monday, December 11, 2023

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE course will guide defense counsel in techniques designed to recognize and counterbalance plaintiff's "reptile" tactics when they occur during voir dire and jury selection as well as how to use jury selection to set the foundation for a successful result. The program will also discuss countering "reptile" issues that may arise with jury instructions and verdicts.


"Reptile theory" is a challenging and often discussed plaintiff's trial strategy. It subtly encourages jurors to envision themselves in the same situation as a plaintiff but with the power to "save" the plaintiff, themselves, and the community from future harm by awarding a large verdict. Plaintiff's counsel are taught techniques for identifying jurors who appear receptive to these ideas as well as how to exaggerate any biases of those who appear unreceptive to "reptile philosophy" and get them excused from the jury.

Defense counsel can equip themselves with skills and tools to recognize this as it happens and to take effective countermeasures. Counsel must be able to recognize favorable and unfavorable biases against their client and carefully try to get jurors excused who are most likely to issue a verdict based solely on their emotional response to the evidence.

Listen as our distinguished panel provides essential guidance to defense attorneys on navigating voir dire and jury selection and avoiding reptile tactics.



  1. Goals of voir dire
  2. Identifying "reptile" tactics during voir dire
  3. Identifying favorable and unfavorable biases
  4. Unalterable prejudice and rehabilitation
  5. Reptile issues in instructions and verdict forms


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • How can counsel educate potential jurors?
  • How can questions be phrased to make rehabilitation of negative jurors difficult?
  • How can the opposing party's strategy be ascertained from voir dire?


Paul F. Devine
Paul F. Devine

Boggs Avellino Lach & Boggs

Mr. Devine has thirty years’ experience in various types of litigation, in a career that has focused on insurance...  |  Read More

Whitlock, Kathryn
Kathryn S. (Kate) Whitlock

McAngus Goudelock & Courie

Ms. Whitlock has spent her entire career defending and counseling individuals and insurance companies in professional...  |  Read More

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