Richard Waites

Richard Waites

Richard C. Waites, J.D., Ph.D., (born October 7, 1951), a noted board certified trial attorney and social psychologist, is an internationally recognized expert in jury and courtroom decision maker research, a field he helped to develop and that he continues to advance. It is believed that there are less than 5 people in the United States who have ever attained enough trial experience and expertise to become board certified as trial attorneys in addition to substantial doctoral study and practice in the field of social psychology. Waites is a respected authority and innovator in the application of social science research to effective trial advocacy in the courtroom and in arbitration.

Waites is the author of three books and a number of comprehensive articles on law and psychology topics, including a well known courtroom psychology treatise entitled [ Courtroom Psychology and Trial Advocacy] published by [ American Lawyer Media] .

He has appeared as a legal analyst on Court-TV, the MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour, ABC's Nightline, CNN News, Larry King Live, Fox News, MSNBC, Good Morning America, and Sky TV. His work also has been reported on in articles in USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Reuters News, and in leading magazines and newspapers within the United States and overseas.

Law and Psychology

Waites is one of the first people in the United States to achieve a total integration of law and psychology by education and practice. At the time he entered the two fields separately (circa 1973), there were no dual academic or degree programs that allowed such integration. Law and psychology were considered by academic institutions, attorney/legal regulatory entities, and psychological associations to be unrelated except in general terms.

However, between 1973 and 2002, Waites studied, conducted research, and/or practiced as a board certified trial attorney and social psychologist during which time he reviewed thousands of peer reviewed scientific research studies and learned how best to integrate applicable findings into the process of understanding the decision-making processes of judges, jurors, and arbitrators. Along with this understanding, Waites continually experimented and developed techniques and methods of enhancing the persuasive power of courtroom arguments in presentations. His research and practice included elements of social psychology, experimental psychology, developmental psychology, communications, organizational psychology, and other applied fields of psychology.

Waites is believed to be one of the first board certified trial attorneys trained as a social psychologist to publicly advocate and demonstrate the use of social science research in assisting trial attorneys and their clients to improve the effectiveness of courtroom and arbitration arguments and presentations.

Using advanced public and private social science research techniques, Waites is credited with improving the reliability and accuracy of private jury focus group, mock jury trials, mock arbitration hearings, and other advanced social science research techniques to the development of persuasive courtroom presentations. With respect to litigation involving an upcoming jury trial, this field of research is often referred to as jury research.

cientific Study of Courtroom Decision Making

Waites’ concentrated exposure to the courtroom at an early age, coupled with his undergraduate and graduate study in the unconventional field of humanistic psychology greatly influenced Waites to ignore conventional separations between law and psychology. He developed a presumption that there can be no practical separation between the legally related behavior of people and the psychology (mental and behavioral processes) associated with legally related behavior. This presumption has featured prominently in all his published and private works.

Humanistic psychology is a school of psychology that emerged in the 1950s in reaction to both behaviorism and psychoanalysis. It is explicitly concerned with the human dimension of psychology and the human context for the development of psychological theory. These matters are often summarized by the five postulates of Humanistic Psychology given by James Bugental (1964), mainly that:
#Human beings cannot be reduced to components.
#Human beings have in them a uniquely human context.
#Human consciousness includes an awareness of oneself in the context of other people.
#Human beings have choices and non desired responsibilities.
#Human beings are intentional, they seek meaning, value and creativity.

The working theories about human behavior and mental processes inherent in the field of humanistic psychology seemed to have a natural application to actual courtroom practice in Waites’ view. Consequently, Waites' early work in psychology concentrated on the study of the thought processes of judges, jurors, and arbitrators in the resolution of the moral dilemmas posed by pending court cases. His research was intended as an application of the general theories of moral psychology, moral development and moral reasoning developed by Lawrence Kohlberg, famous for his development of the stages of moral development now commonly recognized in developmental psychology.

Waites' study of moral reasoning in the courtroom progressed to the application of advanced research techniques used in other areas of psychology, such as experimental psychology, cognitive psychology, and educational psychology to better understand the decision-making processes of judges, jurors, and arbitrators. The goals of Waites' research were to discover ways to assist courtroom decision-makers in making more informed decisions, thereby benefitting the effectiveness of the judicial system in the United States, and to assist trial attorneys and litigants in developing their most persuasive presentations in the courtroom, thereby improving the effectiveness of the trial advocacy process.

Jury Research

One of the specific applications of experimental psychology is in the study of the decision making processes of individual jurors and jury groups in the courtrooms of federal and state courts in the United States. Using quantitative and qualitative social science research techniques, Waites has helped to advance the use of reliable and useful testing techniques in accurately determining the most likely perceptions of jurors to further knowledge of jury decision making in specific litigation matters while at the same time improving the quality of courtroom presentations by trial advocates for the benefit of juries and trial courts. See also [ American Psychological Association - Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing]

The product of Waites' work in jury research and that of other specially trained psychologists is used today in two ways. First, academic institutions, professional organizations, and private business organizations include the products of this work in the education and training of trial attorneys, corporate counsel who manage litigation, risk managers, insurance professionals, professional expert witnesses, jury consultants (sometimes referred to as trial consultants), and others whose work takes them to the courtroom. Second, jury research study methods and extensive courtroom experience are often used by trial attorneys, corporate counsel, and litigants in gaining an understanding of how likely jurors will perceive the evidence, witnesses, and trial attorneys in particular upcoming trials and provide a basis for making creative and persuasive presentations in the courtroom.

Waites' work in this highly specialized field is notable for many reasons. His approach to the design and implementation of jury research techniques and development of persuasive courtroom presentations is governed by his achievements as an experienced trial attorney and an experienced doctoral level social scientist. While Waites is credited in private practice for the development of many successful courtroom arguments, he is also highly regarded by many academic institutions, professional societies, and attorney professional organizations for his many contributions of time, resources, and assistance in the development of professional people in many fields who appear or practice in the courtroom.

Books and Articles

Between 1982 and 2003, Waites published many of his research findings and discoveries of advanced trial advocacy techniques designed to enhance the effectiveness of courtroom presentations to judges, juries, and arbitration panels. During this time, many books, professional papers, and articles written by Waites appeared in publications of academic institutions, professional societies, and legal associations. Many of his papers and articles have more recently appeared as part of the curriculum in academic and professional training programs. e.g. [

In each of these works, Waites explored varied applications of jury research findings to the practice of law and trial advocacy in the courtroom. These papers and articles have been published by national, state, and local bar associations and attorney professional groups, such as the American Bar Association, the Defense Research Institute, American Health Lawyers Association, Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel, and many other professional organizations engaged in professional education of courtroom practitioners.

In 2003, editors and publishers with [ American Lawyer Media] invited Waites to author a book for trial attorneys and corporate representatives who manage litigation which would merge practically useful knowledge from peer-reviewed social science and psychology research with state-of-the-art trial advocacy practice. This book, entitled [ Courtroom Psychology and Trial Advocacy] , was released in 2004. According to the publisher, this book has become the company's best-selling trial and courtroom related treatise. Many American law libraries have included the book in their collection. e.g. [ Suffolk University Law Library] [!4807899~!1&ri=2&aspect=subtab13&menu=search&source=~!horizon University of Chicago Library] [ University of Houston Law Center O’Quinn Library]

After 2004, Waites published many professional papers and articles exploring varied applications of jury research findings to the practice of law and trial advocacy in the courtroom. These papers and articles have been published by national, state, and local bar associations and attorney professional groups, such as the American Bar Association, the Defense Research Institute, American Health Lawyers Association, Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel, and many other professional organizations engaged in professional education of courtroom practitioners.

Waites’ published articles and presentations continue to be used by academic, legal, and professional organizations as part of their continuing education programs for professionals who practice in the courtroom. e.g. [ Seak Expert Witness Conference] [ Crittenden Medical Insurance Conference - 2007] , [ Defense Research Institute – Medical and Health Care Law Conference] .

Awards and Affiliations

As a prominent board certified trial attorney and social psychologist, Waites is the recipient of numerous professional awards and honors. He is a member of the [ American Bar Association] , [ American Psychological Association] , [ American Psychology - Law Society] , [ American Society of Trial Consultants] , [ Defense Research Institute] , [ National Institute of Trial Advocacy] , and the [ State Bar of Texas] . He is board certified as a civil trial attorney by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and has received a personal 'AV" rating by the [ Martindale Hubbell] (the highest rating for professional integrity and competence available).

Background and Education

Waites spent his early years in Georgia and Florida. While still a secondary school student, Waites developed an unusually early fascination with courtroom proceedings. At the age of 11 (1962), his father introduced him to a local Georgia state trial judge in connection with a school academic project. After some interaction, the trial judge invited Waites to attend court sessions as an observer which he did after school hours on regular occasions. (The widely-acclaimed television series of Perry Mason first aired from 1957-1966. The Perry Mason series was the first of the courtroom drama genre and is still considered a classic.)

Waites conducted his undergraduate and early graduate work in social science and psychology at the [ University of West Georgia] in Carrollton, Georgia. The psychology department at the university is believed to be one of only two university psychology departments in the United States that focus on the study of humanistic psychology.


Waites obtained his law degree (J.D.) from the University of Houston Law Center and afterwards practiced law as a trial attorney for 13 years. During this time, Waites represented hundreds of individuals and corporations in litigation matters, including more than 70 jury trials. After a lengthy examination and review process stipulated by the Supreme Court of Texas, he became board certified as a civil trial attorney. At about the same time, Waites continued his education in psychology and received his doctorate (Ph.D.) (summa cum laude) in psychology from [ Walden University] in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Waites is one of the founders of Advocacy Sciences, Inc. ( [ The Advocates] ), the largest jury and trial consulting firm in the United States. The Advocates has 23 professional trial consultants and offices in 17 major cities throughout the nation. Waites serves as the CEO and as Chief Trial Psychologist for The Advocates. The firm's clients include trial attorneys and law firms as well as domestic and international corporations who use the firm's expertise in accurately assessing the persuasive strengths and weaknesses of their litigation cases and in developing creative and successful trial and arbitration strategies.

Since 2004, Waites has continued in private practice as a trial consultant and is engaged to assist trial attorneys and corporations in litigation.


Abbott, Walter F. and Batt, John, "A Handbook of Jury Research", Published by the American Law Institute - American Bar Association (1999), 798 pp.

Ballesteros, Sydney G. "Don't Mess With Texas Voir Dire", 39 Houston L. Rev. 202-241.

Griffith, James D., Hart, Christian L., Kessler, Jill, and Goodling, Morgan L., Trial consultants: Perceptions of eligible jurors, Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research. 2007 Jun Vol 59(2) 148-153.

Hans, Valerie P., Vidmar, Neil, and Zeisel, Hans, "Judging the Jury", Published by Basic Books (2001), 286 pp.

Jeffreys,B., "Enron Defendant Worked Alongside Attorneys to Win Acquittal", (Texas Lawyer, Nov. 18, 2004).

Lieberman, Joel D. and Sales, Bruce D. "Additional trial consulting techniques that aid jury selection" in Scientific Jury Selection. (pp. 167-185). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association (2007) ix, 261 pp.

Posey, Amy J. and Wrightsman, Lawrence S., Trial consulting, American Psychology-Law Society Series. New York, NY, US: Oxford University Press (2005), 272 pp.

Strier, Franklin, "Whither trial consulting? Issues and projections": Erratum. Law and Human Behavior. 1999 Apr Vol 23(2), 269 (original article: Law and Human Behavior. 1999 Feb Vol 23(1) 93-115.

Vidmar, Neil and Hans, Valerie P., "American Juries", Published by Prometheus Books (2007), 428 pp.

Waites, Richard C. and Giles, David A., "Are Jurors Equipped to Decide the Outcome of Complex Cases?", 29 Am. J. Trial Advoc. 19 (2005). Waites, Richard C., "Courtroom Psychology and Trial Advocacy", Published by American Lawyer Media (2004), 625 pp.

Waites, Richard C., "Juror Perceptions About Lawsuits and Tort Reform", 5 The Jury Expert, 1 (Published by the American Society of Trial Consultants)(2007).

Waites, Richard C., "Is Restricting Voir Dire Just Good Court Management or Infringement of Due Process?, THE LEGAL INTELLIGENCER, July 11, 2000, WL 7/11/2000 TLI 7, at 1.

ee also

* Jury research

* Legal psychology

* Scientific jury selection

External links

* [ American Psychology - Law Society]
* [ American Society of Trial Consultants]
* [ The Advocates (Advocacy Sciences, Inc.)]


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