If a case goes to trial, you can rest assured that there’s an arduous process ahead of you. After all, if the case was as “open and shut” as you sometimes hope, there would’ve likely been a plea deal or settlement before it ever got to trial. Once a case ends up in the courtroom, everyone is on an equal playing field. No matter how great an attorney is or how obvious the eventual verdict seems, there are no guarantees. This is why legal professionals around the world now utilize jury consulting services to gain the upper hand.
Although you may not find it in typical high school textbooks, jury consulting is most certainly a science. A jury consultant advises an attorney throughout proceedings. From assisting with jury selection to providing valuable insight after the trial, these professionals are with the attorney they’re advising for the long haul.
The science of trial consulting is focused on helping an attorney get the ruling they want. If you’ve ever seen the movie “Runaway Jury,” you certainly have an idea of how jury consulting works — albeit a tarnished one. You’d be hard-pressed to find a consultant willing to go through the illegal measures portrayed in the movie. The film does accomplish, however, showcasing the eventual goal of jury consulting.
Who are Jury Consultants?
Jury consulting is no longer simply about picking the best jury. Now, trial consultants do everything from mock trials and shadow jury studies to witness preparation and trial presentation. Because of the numerous skill sets required, attorneys need to focus on consultants with the right experience.
Like most consulting careers, there is no university dedicated to providing jury consulting degrees. Instead, these professionals are individuals with backgrounds in social science. This could include a master’s degree in criminology, sociology, psychology or any degree focused on behavioral science. Fortunately, these degrees often focus heavily on research methodology, which is another essential skill when performing trial consulting.
There are several services that you want your jury consultant to provide. Fortunately, Magna jury consultants provide an array of jury consulting services to assist in the process.
Just like a good attorney, a trial consultant’s job begins before proceedings ever starts. It’s not as simple as listening in on the voir dire process and ascertaining which jurors are most likely to return a favorable verdict. Change of venue studies, for example, are a powerful tool in jury consulting. Surveys are created to ascertain a locality’s feelings related to the case. If it’s discovered that certain biases or demographic features could make a favorable verdict unlikely, a change of venue can be requested.
Juror profiling studies, using mock juries and focus groups, can also develop profiles of individuals who are likely to favor the prosecution and those more inclined to sympathize with the defense. This will ensure the best possible juror selection process. One of the strongest tools, though, are mock trials related to adversarial focus groups. These mock trials could potentially last several days, and “jurors” will experience what it’s like to be in a real-life trial. This will include presentation of both sides of the cases, witness testimony and even evidence exhibits.
The responsibilities of a trial consultant are numerous, but in the end, they’re all focused on creating a courtroom environment where the attorney’s client has every potential benefit.
During the Trial
The term “jury consulting,” while still widely used by those outside of the profession, implies that the consultant’s job is finished after helping to select the ideal jury. This simply isn’t the case. Even as the proceedings are carrying on, a trial consultant will use their social behavior knowledge and research to improve an attorney’s chances of winning their case.
One increasingly popular method of monitoring jurors during the trial is known as Jury Scout. This program is capable of following jurors on the Internet via their social media, blogs and other online activity. By doing this, trial consultants can find out if jurors have potential biases they didn’t admit to or even catch individuals breaking the rules dictated by the judge. Jury Scout has even been used in an appeal after it was discovered that jurors inappropriately researched a case online.
Why Do You Need a Jury Consultant?
While having a jury consultant isn’t mandatory in any criminal case, you’re effectively handicapping yourself by not utilizing one. Your client deserves every advantage available, and if you’re not selecting a jury that will give them that, you’re not doing everything in your power to win. If attorneys had the time or expertise to pull this off, it would be a perfect world. Unfortunately, this isn’t often the case.
As it turns out, the benefits of a jury consultant don’t just last for the trial. Afterwards, the professional can review the entirety of the case with you. You won’t become a trial consulting expert overnight, but as you use this method of improving your client’s odds more frequently, you’ll become more adept at jury selection yourself. If you can pick up even a bit of this knowledge, your new skill set will be invaluable.
Are you considering hiring a jury consultant for your upcoming trial case? Click here to read more about our full array of jury consulting services or contact us to set up a complimentary case consultation.
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