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Reading People: How to Understand People and Predict Their Behavior–Anytime, Anyplace

By Jo-Ellan Dimitrius, Ph.D. and Mark Mazzarella

Reading People.gifIn Reading People, the authors describe how to develop your intuitive and observational skills, including during voir dire.

281 pages
Random House (1998)

Reviewed by: Eric Howard
Jo-Ellan Dimitrius, a jury consultant whose credits include the Rodney King, Reginald Denny, and McMartin Preschool trials, and Mark Mazzarella, past chair of the litigation section of the California State Bar, pepper some standard popular psychology with anecdotes from the courtroom, with a concentration on voir dire and monitoring a jury's impressions during trial. Dimitrius's arguments include:

do as much homework as possible.

do not let your own fears, prejudices, or arrogance blind you to the signals that another is sending you.

be alert to changes in the behavior of others.

focus on the areas of character that cross demographics.

Such information is definitely worth reading, but unfortunately ;Reading People is padded with the kind of insights and analyses common to many popular psychology books. Reading People is directed at general readers, not exclusively lawyers, and lawyers will need to skim to find key passages about jury selection and other aspects of Dimitrius';s craft.

One example of what should be useful to a time-pressured trial attorney is her insights about the "hardness"; of a person's character. Dimitrius repeatedly argues that membership in a particular ethic, religious, or economic group is not to be used as a reliable indicator of a juror's likely sympathies; rather, such factors as a person's empathy and generosity (the less one has, the "harder" one's character), which can be "read," should be an attorney's guides. Another such factor is the balance of a person's self-confidence and insecurity.

Attorneys may wish to buy this book, but not all of it needs to be read.

Eric Howard is associate editor of Los Angeles Lawyer.