Using Social Media Surveillance to Support Your Case

Litigation Support: Social Media & Online Activity Monitoring

There are 2 main ways social media surveillance can help your case:

  1. Using a claimant’s, plaintiff’s, defendant’s, witness’ or expert witness’ online activity to determine how it meshes with his or her statements
  2. Interpreting a juror’s or potential juror’s online activity to discover any past experiences or biases which can affect their perception of your case.

Let’s look at the facts:

  • Utilizing social media surveillance is more beneficial now more than ever – the pandemic had more people spending time online for socializing, work, school and virtual events.
  • Approximately 72 percent of U.S. adults use some form of social media, making online platforms a great source of information to use during discovery, jury selection and throughout trial.
  • Between the recent election, shift in the economy, social justice movements and debates surrounding the pandemic, a person’s online activity can give you the insight you need concerning their views and any biases they might have.

What Is Social Media Surveillance?

            Social media surveillance is the process of collecting and interpreting information gathered from online platforms. This can be used to see the type of content someone posts or interacts with before, during and after a lawsuit or investigation. Social media surveillance can be used to see if the information a subject shares in court, aligns with the content they post on online platforms.

Online Activity Reports

Social media surveillance services such as Magna’s ClaimScout & JuryScout will gather information and compile detailed reports to obtain case evidence and/or enhance your trial strategy. Magna will also monitor the subject’s online activity throughout the duration of the trial and post-verdict.

ClaimScout & JuryScout Monitor:

  • Facebook, Instagram and other social networks
  • Blogs and journals
  • Online communities
  • Twitter and other microblogs
  • Message boards
  • Digg, Reddit and other social news sites
  • Business networks
  • Personal websites
  • & much more

Social Media Surveillance for Claimants (ClaimScout)

Scout out whether a claimant, plaintiff, defendant or witness is telling the truth about their claim. ClaimScout can be your online eyes and ears. Using our proprietary methodology, Magna can monitor a person’s internet activity to determine how it meshes with his/her claim.

Online activity reports help trial attorneys determine how the claims made in a case align with the subject’s online behavior and social media presence.

Social Media Surveillance for Jurors (JuryScout)

  • JuryScout can access information on jurors during jury selection, trial and post-verdict.
  • JuryScout can monitor a juror’s internet activity to ensure they are following court instructions, and also gain valuable insight into their thoughts and activities throughout trial as well as post-verdict.

Jury Selection

As courts are by and large limiting access to jurors during jury selection, social media research can be used as a compliment to traditional jury selection services (such as voir dire questionnaire development and public records searches). Social media information may provide additional information on venire panelists which when compiled, may show political and religious affiliations, biases, and more.

Predicting Juror Behavior

By creating a personalized matrix of information for each potential juror, online activity reports can provide additional insights into whether or not a juror has attributes that lead to bias. Additionally, jurors may be monitored during trial and/or post-verdict to see if they are posting about aspects of the case and/or communicating amongst one another during trial.

Post-Verdict

Here’s an example: Magna was retained post-verdict for a high-profile case involving sexual harassment of an employee. Following an unfavorable verdict, JuryScout was able to go back and look at cached information and located four (4) jurors who violated the court’s instruction not to research or discuss the case. Counsel was able to use this information as part of the appeal.

Social Media Surveillance with Magna Legal Services

Looking to use social media surveillance to support your case? Magna Legal Services’ award winning ClaimScout & JuryScout services are a click away. Click below to get started.

For more information or to request a free case consultation, contact us anytime at 866.624.6221, or email us at [email protected]

Additionally, ClaimScout & JuryScout reports can also include information regarding:

  • Address Summary
  • Others using SSN
  • Date/Locations where SSN Issued
  • Census Data
  • Bankruptcy Indicator
  • Property Indicator
  • Corporate Affiliations Indicator
  • Bankruptcy
  • Liens and Judgments
  • UCC Filings
  • People at Work
  • Driver Licenses
  • Vehicle Registrations
  • Property
  • Professional Licenses
  • Voter Registration
  • Hunting/Fishing Permits
  • Concealed Weapons Permits
  • Associates
  • Relatives
  • Neighbors
  • Criminal Records
  • Sexual Offenders
  • Phones

Related Articles:

Online Jury Research: COVID’s Effect on Juror Perspectives & Damages

How the Pandemic Affects Juror Perspectives
… and how to adjust your litigation strategy accordingly

By conducting a series of nationwide surveys, Magna consultants examined COVID-19’s impact on prospective jurors’ attitudes and beliefs. Let’s look at the facts:

In today’s world, many jurors feel the need to be the “guardians of the community” by forcing companies to change their bad behavior with large damage awards. Litigators and those in the insurance industry refer to these as “reptilian jurors“, who are responsible for the increasing frequency of “nuclear verdicts”.

Our research has shown the below trend in recent juror perspectives:

Factors that drive up verdicts include:

  • Juror Vulnerability, Fear, Volatility, & Polarization
  • Rising Costs & Uncertainty of the Future
  • More Millennials on Juries
  • Bad Testimony or Misidentification of Corporate Representatives
  • Anti-Corporate Bias – “Profits over Safety”
  • Not Setting a Floor or Providing a Low Damages Anchor
  • Not Addressing Key Issues/Themes in Jury Selection/Opening

Now more than ever, it is important to know how juror perspectives changed in your specific venue for your specific case issues.

It’s not a question if the pandemic will affect your cases… it’s a question of how it will affect your cases.

In general, many potential jurors now are more vulnerable – both health-wise and financially – than pre-pandemic, which can make people more plaintiff-friendly. However, depending on the venue, the most vulnerable, most risk-averse (i.e., most plaintiff-friendly) may be less likely to show up for jury duty or to be seated on a jury at present.

Luckily, there are some research tools to give you the current data you need to adjust your litigation strategy.

Test Your Damages
with JuryEvaluator

What is your case worth now? JuryEvaluator offers a scientific and statistically significant damages assessment for your ACTUAL CASE from your ACTUAL JURY POOL. This research will consider the effect of COVID-19 and current media climate, to provide insight into your case risk, exposure and value.

  • Research conducted in your case venue using your actual case facts
  • Research captures present-day surrogate juror attitudes and biases
  • Statistical analyses provide a reliable range of potential damages if the case went to a jury trial (economic, non-economic & punitive)
  • Optional Juror Profiling analysis

Online Focus Groups
with JuryConfirm

How has COVID impacted juror perspectives in your venue? Test your themes, storylines, social climate & more with JuryConfirm, Magna’s patented online focus group platform.

  • Evidence analyzer powered by AI
  • Live attorney presentations with limitless capabilities
  • Simulation of court room environment with interactive avatars and live video feed of jurors and attorneys
  • Live (video) juror deliberations with more panels than ever available before
  • Real-time results: Fully-customized questionnaires, polling & presentation feedback
  • Detailed reports featuring case evaluation, theme development, and jury profi­les

Nationwide COVID-19 Study Results

Magna Legal Services conducted a series of nationwide surveys to assess evolving changes and shifts in juror perceptions in this brave new world.

Study includes 5,000 respondents
& 100+ questions about:

  • Technology
  • Finance
  • Law Enforcement
  • Insurance
  • Life Sciences

Learn about our findings:

  • Halo effect
  • Business Interruption Coverage
  • Reptilian Influence
  • Crisis Fatigue
  • Juror Vulnerability

Complete the form to download your FREE copy of Magna’s COVID Study results >>

Contact our 24/7 Hotline for a FREE Case Consultation: 877.220.1821

or, email us at [email protected], or fill out our contact form

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Analyzing & Monetizing Construction Defect Claims

Virtually all construction or property related decisions should be made with costs in mind. But some people are afraid of math.

Regardless of whether you’re an attorney, insurance professional, property owner, or manager, you need to be able to focus on the “vital few” issues, and virtually ignore the “trivial many.” This means knowing how much things cost – not to the penny, but rather a reasonable approximation. The best place to start, when working to make smart economic decisions, is on the BIG expensive issues. You begin by chopping a project into logical parts, and estimating the cost of those chunks, so you can see the forest AND the trees. The earlier in the process you do this, the better.

Magna Legal Services hosted a webinar on January 27, 2021 (recording below), which featured expert panelists explaining the framework behind analyzing and monetizing construction defect claims.

“There’s a lot of parties involved [in a construction defect case]. You have to understand the structure and you have to speak the language… whether it’s the folks on the ground or in the board room, you have to be able to do both,” said Paul Danner of Goldberg Segalla.

Aileen Schwartz of Hill International, Inc. says she makes sure to bring in experts early on to prevent dragging out litigation. “I’ve had cases that were brought in and there were no damages against us. If there are no damages, there is no case”, she said.

If the case ends up going forward, it’s important that it is not a jury trial, Aileen noted, saying “nobody on a jury wants to listen to your construction defect claim. They’re falling asleep. You really need a judge who knows what you’re talking about to hear the cases.”

Every party wants to get the case settled sooner to avoid costly and timely litigation. Magna’s Scott Horwtiz said “Magna’s jury consultants are getting involved more and more on the early side of things to test theories and test themes to see if a small amount of money up front could take care of all of this”.

When preparing your case, organization is key. Pete Fowler explained the importance of starting with “a discreet list of issues — whether its one issue, or hundreds of issues.” In conjunction with the list of issues, Fowler utilizes “a sensible list of costs associated with each issue, and a sensible list of all the people who might be involved with each of those issues.” “It gets to be this big horrible matrix,” he added.

Watch the full webinar recording below to hear our expert panel break down these complex cases.

This webinar originally aired live on 1.27.2021

Webinar details:

Panelists:
Pete Fowler, Founder, Pete Fowler Construction
Scott Horwitz, Esq., National Director of Graphics Consulting & Trial Presentation, Magna Legal Services
Aileen R. Schwartz, Senior VP, Sr. Corporate Counsel US & Privacy Officer, Hill International, Inc.

Moderated by:
Paul S. Danner, Esq., Partner, Goldberg Segalla

Presented by:
Peter Hecht, Partner & Executive Vice President of Sales, Magna Legal Services

Learn more about utilizing trial graphics & tutorials for complex cases here.

Click here to view a list of more upcoming webinars & conferences.

Court House

Magna Mock Trial Contributes to Client Win on All Counts

Court House

In preparation for an upcoming patent infringement matter in the United States District Court, Central District of California, the Honorable Judge Josephine L. Station presiding, Magna Legal Services (“Magna”) conducted both a mock trial and hourly consulting services as the case moved towards trial. Legal counsel from the firm Russ August & Kabat represented Pavo Solutions, LLC, a South Korean company that manufactures USB flash drives. Ben Wang, lead counsel with Russ August & Kabat, represented Pavo.

Over the course of the trial, Magna acted in the capacity of a strategic litigation consulting firm, through one of its senior jury consultants, Dr. John Gilleland. Strategic litigation consulting involves a systematic approach to optimizing the jury selection process and helps to refine the trial presentation themes and strategy of one’s case. The jury consultant frequently draws on the information gathered in the pre-trial research effort for additional follow-up consultation, which in this case, included both witness communication training and voir dire/jury selection assistance.

Trial Background and Specifics

Pavo manufactures a USB flash drive with a patented swivel cover.  The suit alleged that Kingston Technology manufactured and sold a product with identical, patented elements.

The Mock Trial Process

Magna conducted a mock trial on behalf of Russ August & Kabat utilizing three (3) separate panels of deliberating jurors. These panels followed a full trial format in which they heard opening statements, key evidence including witness testimony and then closing arguments from each of the respective parties.

The detailed feedback from each of the three deliberation panels helped to guide Mr. Wang’s trial team in the refinement of their case structure and trial presentation strategies. The Magna research team made recommendations ranging from: high-level structural issues for the various trial arguments, down to suggestions for simplification of key witness testimony. If left uncorrected, even the smallest of these issues could have a material impact on the actual trial.

After the mock trial, Mr. Wang said, “This mock trial was particularly helpful; feedback and issues were spotted all the way down to the team’s organization. The feedback at the mock trial turned out to be (identify) a key issue at trial and we were prepared for it, so we managed to keep it out. Having it come up in the mock and forcing us to prepare our response to it, got the judge to say “no-go”.  If we had to do it on the fly, we might not have had the same result.”

Through the mock trial process, Mr. Wang was able to anticipate challenges ahead of time, giving him and his client a distinct advantage in the actual trial setting.

Focus on Voir Dire

Dr. Gilleland’s recommendations regarding voir dire topics were of particular importance when it came to the actual trial. Through the mock trial process, Dr. Gilleland was able to formulate and refine specific questions, which were likely to help identify each jurors’ probable verdict orientation. Mr. Wang was able to take these questions and apply them to the actual trial, resulting in a positive impact on the eventual decision. “It was helpful to have Dr. Gilleland here to provide a first draft of questions for the jurors,” said Mr. Wang following the completion of the trial.

Magna specializes in end-to-end litigation consulting. Through Magna’s consulting process, we help clients set the stage for any of their litigation needs, including: scheduling depositions, language services, medical record retrieval, social media surveillance, graphics/demonstratives, trial technology and jury/bench/arbitration research and consulting. To learn more about our jury consulting process, request a free copy of The Ultimate Guide to Jury Consulting, from our website or contact our offices to schedule a free case consultation of your own.

Jury Consulting Guide

The Viability of Virtual Jury Trials

This webinar originally aired live on 7.1.2020

In May 2020, a Texas court held the nation’s first jury trial via Zoom.

Magna Legal Services held a panel discussion, “Viability of Virtual Jury Trials”, which featured Judge Emily Miskel, who presided over that case, as well as the Civil Jury Project and other expert panelists, as we explore the plausibility of virtual trials.

View the video above to watch our panelists debate the pros and cons of remote trials, and explain in practical terms how these virtual proceedings have actually been carried out.

Panelists:
Judge Emily Miskel, 470th District Court, Collin County, TX
Judge Mark A. Drummond, Circuit Court Judge, 8th Judicial Circuit of Illinois (Retired); Judicial Director, Civil Jury Project
Christine Carbo Marziotti, Senior Litigation Counsel, Phillips 66
Jeffrey Tillotson, Esq., Founder, Tillotson Law
Daniel Wolfe, J.D., Ph.D., Senior Director of Jury Consulting, Magna Legal Services

Moderated by:
Terrell W. Oxford, Esq. Partner, Susman Godfrey LLP

Produced by:
Peter Hecht, Partner & Executive VP of Sales, Magna Legal Services
Canby Wood, Esq., Business Development Manager, Magna Legal Services

You asked, we answered!
Here’s some questions that viewers raised during the program:

Are jurors ok with just using a smartphone in the virtual environment? Can they see exhibits? What about running out of battery and data on their plan?

A:  Yes, most of the jurors used a desktop, laptop or tablet but can use a smart phone if needed. They can see exhibits but understandably they will be harder to see given the size of the screen on most smart phones as compared to a computer, and we heard about exhibits being presented in couple different ways: through a document sharing application as well as through screen sharing. If jurors are using a smart phone we encourage them to have their charger handy so they can keep their phone charged, and if they are not using an unlimited data plan we encourage them to access wifi.

Will this virtual jury selection make it more likely for people with the proper access and data to be called for this type of jury duty?

A: Jury selection will still be conducted as it always has through the Jury Plan in each jurisdiction.  However, having access to technology and data is one of the biggest concerns to ensuring a representative cross-section of jurors for virtual jury trials.

How can we ensure that the jurors and/or parties are not messaging each other in private messages?
How can we ensure the jurors are not attending the trial on one screen and googling the issues being presented on another screen or their phone, and essentially introducing extraneous evidence and biases into their deliberation process? 
Furthermore, should the deliberation process be recorded and have it be available to the court for an in camera review in case of a juror misconduct complaint?

A: The thought is that regardless of whether the trial is being held in a building or virtually, these are human nature issues and they exist in both environments and should be addressed the same way: jurors are admonished and trusted unless evidence is produced otherwise. Also you can tell by watching the participants on zoom whether they are paying attention and focused on the trial, their behavior can be watched and there are tools to determine whether they are focused and participating.

What was used and the process of showing exhibits, arguing for and against the admissibility, and eventually publishing to the jury?

A: Document sharing sites were agreed to in advance and used. And it was important to make sure there was an “IT quarterback” who managed documents as well as participants moving in and out of “rooms”.

Did you find the jury voir dire to take a comparable amount of time or significantly longer/shorter?

A:  The process was actually more efficient but did not significantly differ than what would have likely occurred if in person.

Have any of your pandemic-era trials been hybrid with the attorneys and jury live and all or some witnesses remote?

A: Yes, and it’s the worst of both worlds. It required a lot of set up in advance to ensure technology for both, ensure social distancing, etc. Better to either do completely remotely, or all in-person.

Do we have any data that would help evaluate how long a juror could stay focused during a trial that goes beyond a few days?

A: Mr. Tillotson will be releasing the data from his survey projects in July and this is one of the issues he will address.  

Question to Christine Carbo Marziotti, do you think there is anything appealable based on process?

A: Yes, on due process grounds.

View Judge Drummond’s (Civil Jury Project) newsletter here

Thank you to everyone who tuned in!
Don’t miss any upcoming Magna webinars or conferences:

Witness Preparation for Virtual Depositions

Witness Communication Training

Jurors consider themselves experts on people, so the impressions made by a witness can strongly influence a jury’s decision making.  This is especially true when such impressions are negative.

Witness communication training helps witnesses develop a deeper understanding of the themes, context, and purpose of their testimony.

In-person or online, witness preparation:

  • Reduces or eliminates witness anxiety
  • Clarifies the deponent’s role in the case
  • Helps deponents stay on message
  • Assists in developing a credible conversational tone
  • Identifies and mitigates any non-verbal issues, such as tics, fidgeting or eye-rolling
  • Provides techniques for effectively handling documents and exhibits

Consultants will also explain to witnesses jurors’ expectations for their testimony, and correct behaviors that get in the way of jurors’ positive perceptions.

Magna’s jury consultants help witnesses feel more in control of their testimony while adhering to the rules of testimony and to avoid being “advocates” for their side of the case.  We develop “safe harbors” that give witnesses structure and tools to deal with tough cross-examination questions.  The use of videotape feedback during witness communication training can often help a witness identify what the jurors may perceive.  These tools will allow your witnesses the opportunity to learn and practice strategies in order to best respond to challenging questions and deliver the most effective message at trial.

We use videotape feedback to help witnesses identify what the jurors may perceive. These tools will allow your witnesses to practice strategies for responding to challenging questions and delivering the most effective message at trial.

Defending a Virtual Deposition?

Witness preparation eliminates the added layer of anxiety from the virtual setting by:

  • Practicing. Deponents can feel “alone” without counsel, so a practice session with the platform can help diminish this
  • Reviewing procedures for pauses, objections, and exhibits
  • Instructing deponents where to look for the most natural and effective presentation (particularly if being recorded)
  • Familiarizing participants with the remote platform’s features (chats, mute, viewing exhibits, etc.)
  • Coaching on attire and effective posture

Magna Legal Services has been facilitating remote depositions for over a decade. However, many people are just now taking and defending depositions for the first time in a virtual format. While the Magna LitigationVision (MLV) platform makes remote depositions easy, there are some tips and tricks to help witnesses and attorneys perform well.

Magna’s consultants are experts in preparing witnesses and attorneys for virtual depositions. They will share their practical tips and logistical considerations, explain how remote depositions work and the platform’s capabilities, and will provide advice to attorneys.

Magna consultants will work with your key witnesses and provide them with performance feedback in a non-threatening context making suggestions regarding style, language, and demeanor. .

Witness Prep with a Magna Consultant

To book a witness prep session, or any of Magna’s services, you can contact us here, at 866.624.6221 or [email protected]

Magna is platform agnostic! Please let us know if you have a preference for Zoom, Cisco, Webex, etc.

Virtual Deposition: Magna Legal Services

Why You Should Consider a Jury Consultant

Litigators leave nothing to chance, juries included. While most trial lawyers feel comfortable selecting and working with a jury, a jury consultant is an invaluable addition to your trial team. Magna jury consultants work hand in hand with your trial team to plan, refine, and retool arguments, evidence, and visual communication strategies in order to strengthen your case with the jury.

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Is an Online Focus Group Right for My Case?

Thanks to courtroom dramas, the “CSI effect” and Netflix documentaries, there’s often an unrealistic evidentiary expectation in courtrooms. This makes it difficult for the average person to predict jury decisions in the modern world. By using online focus groups, it’s possible to remove some of this uncertainty. These focus groups provide the benefits of analytics in trial prep, and they can help you recognize and correct weaknesses in your legal strategy.

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How Shadow Juries Can Predict a Trial’s Outcome

peter-hecht

When Mark Calzaretta watches a jury, hearing evidence in a high-stakes lawsuit, it isn’t necessarily an impartial panel of citizen peers he sees. Rather, Calzaretta sees 10 human beings with emotional biases that, if studied diligently, can help lawyers predict, with startling accuracy, the outcome of a case, often before it is tried.

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