It has escaped precisely nobody that the new CBS drama “Bull” is playing a bit loose with the truth. In fact, that’s part of the joke. The title character is Dr. Jason Bull, played by Michael Weatherly, and he certainly looks quite a bit different than the real-life character he is based on: Dr. Phil McGraw. The idea is that he uses advanced technology and brilliant psychological insights to help the wrongly accused. Half CSI technology expert and half psychiatrist, he helps them develop bulletproof defense strategies and predict exactly how juries will react to the evidence and the testimony.
The jury selection process is an intriguing — and high stakes — venture into the subtle terrain of human nature. As you meet and interview all members of your venire, you’ll primarily be looking for reasons to de-select the individuals who bring a bias that will run against your case. Here are five factors that you should explore in the course of empaneling the most effective jury for your case.
Much has changed in the world of trial consulting over the years. These changes have included large increases in overall services and even putting more focus on factors outside of the jury. When looking at the trial consulting over the last decade, however, it becomes obvious that technology has created the biggest shifts in trial consulting.
Challenges for Trial Lawyers
Before understanding how significant of an effect technology has had on trial consulting, you must first recognize why such technologies were necessary. Americans sometimes have a propensity for creating solutions for nonexistent problems, but this wasn’t the case in the trial consulting world. In fact, the major issues came directly from professional legal experts themselves.
Imagine how much you know about your case that the jurors simply don’t have the appropriate education to understand. Once this issue is recognized, you can start using technology to improve your trial outcomes.
Know Your Audience
One of the greatest ways technology has affected trial consulting is by helping you to understand your audience. Sure there are spectators, bailiffs and even an opposing attorney in the courtroom, but they’re not your main audience. The jury needs to be your primary focus, and since they’re not trained in the world of law, it’s your job to speak to them in a language they understand.
One great innovation in trial consulting came thanks to the World Wide Web: online focus groups. Instead of figuring out the logistics of getting a few dozen people into a room at the same time, programs like Jury Confirm can handle everything online while still creating a realistic courtroom environment for your “jurors.”
It’s this type of technology that can help you speak to jurors in that mutually understood language. Too many attorneys are left saying “I can’t believe that’s important to them” or “I’m surprised they don’t understand that argument” after using online focus groups. Fortunately, this shows you where your shortfalls are, and from that point, you can figure out exactly how to correct them.
Courtroom Setup: Helping Your Jurors See Clearly
The difference in legal knowledge between you and the jurors is obviously an issue, but even something as simple as courtroom setup can cause your best points — no matter how well explained — to get lost in translation. The ability for trial jurors to be able to quickly see and comprehend visual evidence can sometimes be removed entirely due to courtroom setup.
Thinking deep into your trials, imagine for a moment that a juror cannot comprehend a visual exhibit because it’s excessively detailed. Even something as simple as being unable to see every word on a slide can stop jurors’ learning in its tracks. Just considering these two examples is enough to understand how big of a part courtroom setup plays in your case’s success.
As technology developed, however, even these issues started to fade away. By using the video, image and document presentation software in our courtroom/war room setup, you can ensure that jurors see the full picture every time. The presentation screen allows for interaction with the exhibit, so you and your witnesses can get the point across even more effectively.
Justice Doesn’t Have to Be Blind
The American legal system prides itself on the claim that justice is blind, but being blind means your eyes are closed. It means you’re at the mercy of others. What could be more terrifying than putting your case into the hands of 6–12 people you have never met and know nothing about?
Fortunately, you don’t have to live out that frightening scenario. Litigation consultants use their expertise to provide legal professionals and their clients with a look inside the mind of potential jurors. These insights include case perceptions, relevant analogies that will help get the point across and understanding individual jurors’ life experiences to better comprehend what impacts their attitudes.
This trial consulting overview provides only a snippet of what technology has done for the profession. Learn more about our jury consulting services to see how you can make your message crystal clear for the jury. And when you’re ready to take happenstance out of your case’s equation, contact us for a free case consultation to see how you can benefit from a litigation consultant.Request a Free Case Consultation
A chicago criminal lawyer learns a new language in law school. That language is dense with theory, legal jargon and even a few doses of Latin. While law students are encouraged to provide minute analyses of potential arguments or points at issue in every fact pattern, the legal practice areas are quite different, especially in a courtroom. In court, your audience is not a law professor, but a juror whose day-to-day life experiences may have little to do with the law or the subject matter of the case.
Lawyers must develop a rapport with jury members within the confines of trial rules, while clearly conveying their arguments to these decision-makers who may have no legal training. There may be only limited instruction on the technical aspects of the law. Understanding the unique perspective of jurors on a legal case is crucial to winning a verdict. To improve your chances for success, consider not only the strength of your argument but how to get your message across. To ensure that you are properly conveying your message, here are 3 trial strategy tips to consider.