This Article brings together neuroscience, cultural symbolism, and the strategies of practicing lawyers to critique the reptile strategy, now popular among trial lawyers. The strategy directs the lawyer to trigger the reptilian brains of jurors so that they react instinctively to threats to themselves and their communities. When humans feel threatened, the reptilian brain, the most primitive part of the brain, takes charge and instinctively controls human conduct. Therefore, if a lawyer can make a juror feel threatened, the lawyer makes an appeal to the juror’s reptilian brain and virtually assures a victory. Thus, a lawyer’s argument should intensify the juror’s fear that his or her physical survival is at stake as well as that of the juror’s family and community. The reptile strategy seeks to make jurors act instinctively and not reflectively. This Article challenges the validity and desirability of this strategy.
Louis J. Sirico, Jr.,
The Trial Lawyer and the Reptilian Brain: A Critique,
65 Clev. St. L. Rev.
available at https://engagedscholarship.csuohio.edu/clevstlrev/vol65/iss3/8