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.

Continue reading

Jury Research Tools: Jury Consulting & Case Evaluation

jury research tools

Despite months of trial preparation, there is one factor that litigators cannot really control: how the jury responds to oral arguments. Unfortunately, the jury’s point of view is ultimately what decides the case. Litigators need insight into how those decision-makers will likely respond to certain lines of argument so they can be the best advocate for their clients.

It has always been challenging to predict juror behavior, but that hurdle has increased with many people accustomed to fictionalized evidence protocols on television dramas. Lawyers face a barrier by having to bridge the gap between juror expectation and reality. Fortunately, there are a number of tools available for law firms to maximize their chances for trial success.

Jury Consulting: What Is It?

Jury consulting is a comprehensive service to gain insight into the perspectives of jurors in order to help attorneys to appropriately develop their trial strategy. In a competitive legal landscape, law firms face greater pressure to serve their clients to the greatest possible capacity.

In a trial setting, they are up against a firm on the other side who may already be using investigative techniques to get jurors on their side. Cases that proceed to trial may have high stakes, both for the plaintiffs and defense, leading lawyers to do what they can to win. Jury consulting has become a necessary part of trial preparation, not restricted to just large firms with well-known clients.

Magna offers jury consulting from all angles, employing extensive research and analysis to give lawyers the knowledge they need before, during and after jury selection. Magna’s work makes it easier to pinpoint potential juror biases, so attorneys do not simply make vague guesses based on their own knowledge of the case. Specifically, Magna offers:

  • Community perception studies
  • Change of venue studies
  • Juror profiling studies
  • Focus groups and mock trials
  • Witness communication training
  • Social media research and surveillance
  • Shadow juries
  • Jury Evaluator damages assessment
  • In-Court trial monitoring

In sum, Magna is part of the litigation team from the moment it becomes clear a case is going to trial. By gathering statistically relevant and perceptive information, Magna gives lawyers the tools they need to present their case effectively in a courtroom. Before the case even begins, Magna’s team helps attorneys to get to know their potential jurors, including those who may be less sympathetic to their client or cynical about the evidence presented.

Jury Evaluator: New Tool to Assess Damages

One of the most mysterious, and essential, aspects of a case is the amount of a potential damage award. Knowing what the jury may award is central to risk management and settlement strategy. Without deep insight into the perspective of the jurors, however, a damage assessment is largely guesswork.

Magna’s Jury Evaluator tool takes the guesswork out of damage assessment. Through a proprietary process, Magna is able to assess the reaction of real people from the jury pool to the specific case. Using a combination of real interviews and simulated analysis, Magna gives attorneys a figure upon which they can base their negotiations.

Learn About Jury Consulting From Magna

Magna is a trusted partner of law firms throughout the U.S. Jury consulting services help attorneys to build the strongest case for their clients, upholding their duty as advocates and raising their professional stature. To learn what Magna can do for your law firm, contact us today.

 

10 Signs Your Trial Needs Jury Consultants

Jury Profiling: Multiple Levels of Jury Research

Jury “selection” does not exist in the United States. Attorneys choose individuals to serve on the jury by “deselecting” from jury service those individuals who they expect to be unfavorable to their side. Identifying and systematically eliminating pro-plaintiff or pro-defense jurors could be your secret weapon in winning a trial.

Traditional jury selection techniques are often based on stereotypical notions about the influence of juror characteristics on verdict behavior. If you’ve ever tried to connect a potential juror’s gender, race, occupation, social status, marital status, age, religion or demeanor to their tendency to vote guilty or award higher damages, then you’ve probably exercised some of these preconceptions. Needless to say, none of these stereotypes has any scientific basis.

In contrast, scientific jury profiling uses empirical techniques and systematic analysis to develop profiles of favorable and unfavorable jurors. In our experience, only multiple levels of research can predict how an individual will approach the case, evaluate evidence, and render a verdict. Statistical profiling ensures that you’re in the best possible position to seat the best jury.

Jury Research Data and Focus Groups

Trial attorneys often pride themselves on their ability to communicate complex legal theories in a simple way. But when you’re living and breathing a case for many months, it is easy for your objectivity to become compromised. Focus groups and other jury research exercises can help fine tune your arguments and begin to identify some trends in jury profiling.

A mock trial or focus group typically involves the observation of small group deliberation, based on the presentation of testimony that closely approximates an actual trial. By analyzing what mock jurors find significant, meaningful or memorable about the case, we can develop early stage profiles about whether certain attitudes and experiences are likely to be pro-plaintiff or pro-defense and helps us to advise the trial team on the effectiveness of their argument and ways to improve.

Mock jury data can be gathered in various ways, including full trial simulations, shadow juries, focus groups and online mock juries. At certain times, we favor some of these methods and/or combine two or more types of exercises in order to gain the fullest data set to prepare for a trial. It depends on the complexity and value of the case.

When gathering mock jury data, it is important to realize that the quality of the findings is wholly dependent on the quality of the methodology: Put simply, you’ll get better results if the research team is well-versed in the nature of advocacy, presentation, communication, psychology and small group behavior, and designs the study with these factors in mind.

Large-scale Juror Profiling

While traditional jury research data is extremely helpful, it is often based on a relatively small sample size, both in terms of the total number of participants and the number of focus groups. Sample size is a key determinant of how much weight to ascribe to research results. Generally, smaller sample size groups should be interpreted with caution since the group’s characteristics may have been the primary cause of the outcome; they are not predictive in the statistical sense. This is particularly important when evaluating damage awards or responsibility allocations, which are the least reliable types of data.

Because of these limitations, we recommend large-scale juror profiling studies. Massive community profiling allows us to validate the initial profiles developed through our jury research, and determine with statistical certainty what types of jurors are likely to favor the plaintiff versus the defense in your case.

Large-scale profiling is a multifaceted protocol. It starts with one or more large-scale community perception surveys, which we administer with the intent of uncovering community attitudes and biases to each party’s respective position in the case. Research consistently shows that pre-existing attitudes are more predictive of verdict behavior than the potential juror’s experiences; and experiences are significantly more predictive than demographics.

In other words, it is not enough to find out what experiences the potential jurors had, but also what they learned from these experiences. Essentially, we’re using big data about ordinary people, such as their social media activity, to develop a statistically reliable verdict-orientation model based on what motivates people to think the way they do.

The impressions we collect allow us to develop and gain a more nuanced understanding of the kinds of jurors who would be more receptive to the plaintiff’s position than they would be to the defense case. Correlated with mock jury data, this can help us narrow down potential voir dire questions to those which we know are reliable predictors of verdict orientation. The goal is to help the trial team effectively identify and deselect jurors who cannot and never will be persuaded.

Final Thoughts

“Almost every case has been won or lost when the jury is sworn,” legendary defense attorney Clarence Darrow once claimed. That may be an exaggeration, but getting even a small edge can turn the tables in a difficult case. Jury profiling can give you that edge — as long as it’s the right type of profiling. Piecemeal small-scale mock juries have less value than aggregated results gathered from multiple data points and deeper statistical analysis.

Just as you evaluate cases in a critical manner, evaluate the quality of the research service used with the same considered eye. Choosing a consultant who applies multiple layers of rigor to their analysis ensures the quality of your data and assigns a degree of much-needed confidence to the results you have obtained. It can make all the difference.

If you’re ready to learn more about Magna’s jury profiling services, contact Magna Legal Services today.

Request a Complimentary Case Consultation >>

Related Articles:

The Advanced Technology of Jury Consulting Firms

Technology has become an integral part of the legal industry. A lot of advancements have been made in a short amount of time so law firms and legal businesses are having to adapt to the new technological world. For example, a law firm can improve it’s profitability and productivity if it starts having an online presence. Moving all their data to the cloud and having a website, however, can mean data breaches if they’re not careful and don’t get Legal IT Services to help protect them.

And, we all know that technology has become an integral part of successfully litigating a case. Whether before entering the courtroom learning the strengths and weakness of you case or presenting your case. The most effective legal arguments must convince not only the judge, but also the everyday men and women who make up the jury that your position is the correct one. Those individuals come into the case with their own perceptions and biases, which technology can help you identify and strategize accordingly. Technology advancement is very important as time goes by, lawyers need to keep up with this to help their firm thrive. If their law firm was based on helping businesses/people with bankruptcy, they will need to utilize bankruptcy lawyers marketing strategies to help them get their names out there and bring in clients.

Large and small law firms alike benefit from outside assistance in preparing for a jury trial, including in-depth analysis of which perceptions or characteristics of jurors would be more favorable for your positions. Whether through courtroom observations or monitoring jurors on social media consultants can identify the strengths of your case and/or juror misconduct. Technology consulting firms can help with the development of businesses like this looking to have technology work better for them by advancing their strategies, they can use developments such as intelligent automation, which can potentially increase production within their business. Companies such as SDLC Partners may be able to help with this transformation in their businesses and help with any problems that may come up.

Jury Consulting Technology

Lawyers want to know as much information as possible before starting a case. That information extends beyond researching all the evidence, potential witnesses, legislation and case law – it also means knowing how the people in the jury box might respond to potential arguments. While lawyers may want to believe jurors dutifully follow instructions and put their personal feelings aside, often certain gut instincts and opinions kick in when jurors analyze a case and scrutinize witnesses.

Providing this insight is at the core of the work of jury consultants. Such jury consultants remove much of the mystery from jurors’ thought processes, so they are no longer anonymous individuals who offer no clue as to how they might vote.

Online focus groups, as a jury research program, are a low-cost alternative to a traditional in-person focus group or mock trial that firms of all sizes can use to analyze the strength and weaknesses of their cases. Identifying key themes and storylines that resonate with jurors is key. Using custom software, online focus groups demonstrate how a jury views a case. The technology uses live attorney presentations and jury deliberations within a virtual environment, followed by detailed analysis and reporting.

Online focus groups are only one part of the puzzle. Once actual jurors are in place, attorneys want to know what they are thinking. Social media provides insight into how individual jurors see the world, including opinions and biases that may not have come to light during the jury selection process.

Modern technology allows for the monitoring of social media feeds to see if the jurors are discussing the case before, during or after trial. This measures juror compliance with the court’s instructions and also provides information about how they may be feeling about the issues at stake.

MagnaLS also offers an additional edge. With MagnaLS’s Jury Evaluator tool, attorneys can receive a scientifically based assessment of the valuation of a case at a particular time. JuryEvaluator uses algorithms based upon the panel, combined with a number of other value factors, to give lawyers an assessment of a range of damages for their case.

Benefits of Technology in the Courtroom

As legal cases become more complex and clients have more and more at stake, including their reputations, business interests and financial assets, lawyers on both sides are pulling out all the stops to provide the best possible representation. Jury consulting is increasingly part of the normal course of doing business for corporations and law firms; for many, it is no longer optional but required.

In the competitive legal landscape, technology offers a compelling edge for your client. Often, going to court is not the best option; putting the case into the hands of a jury – who will decide not only liability but quantify damages – can be riskier than settling before trial. Tools such as the Jury Evaluator can help you do a risk-benefit analysis and give the best advice to your client, whether making a deal outside of court or proceeding to the next stages of litigation.

In the legal industry, more and more firms are using advanced technology to win cases or effectuate a good settlement. The benefits of the technology are so vast that it is hard not to justify their use. Firms that do not rely on jury consulting services are, more often than not, falling behind legal counsel who use every possible tool to give their clients a competitive advantage.

Learn How Jury Consulting Technology Can Help

MagnaLS works collaboratively with lawyers to provide jury consulting, court reporting, discovery and other legal services. For the best results for your client, look to an end-to-end provider of litigation solutions with the best technology available, contact MagnaLS today!

View our court reporting services


5 Legal Responsibilities Beyond Your Pay Grade

As an attorney, your time is best spent interviewing witnesses, gathering vital evidence and planning strategic arguments to give your client the best possible representation. Your methods will in large part determine whether your client receives the desired outcome.

However, trials are not won or lost on legal minds alone. Many factors, including those that influence juries, are crucial to master in order to get the verdict you want. To make that happen, ensure you have these five areas covered — and consider obtaining an outside jury consulting service with the right expertise to take care of them for you.

1. Courtroom Reporter

Trial transcripts are essential tools for legal proceedings, especially those that go on to appellate court. As a lawyer, your job is not to transcribe the entire trial, but that document is key to future witnesses or arguments you make.

Specifically, a transcript is where you’ll memorialize issues for appeal due to the activities of the judge, jury or opposing counsel. At all levels, a transcript provides accounts of witnesses’ testimonial of crucial events, which you can use to bolster your cross-examination.

If you want to get help from the best, our court reporter are here to help.

2. Jury Surveillance

Ultimately, your client’s fate is in the hands of the jury. At every stage of the trial, from jury selection to closing arguments, you must keep their impressions of your case in mind.

Before the case even begins, you should do your best to select jurors who are most likely to see the case from your client’s perspective.

In order to choose the best jury, you should review their social media activity. This can provide insight into political or social biases that may prevent them from seeing your client’s case in the best light. Social media can also give a window into a juror’s points of view, allowing you to tailor your arguments in ways they will best understand.

Monitoring the social media feeds of jurors takes time that you just don’t have in your packed schedule. It also takes a certain amount of web savvy to successfully complete. Instead of taking it on yourself, consider hiring an outside jury consultation firm to monitor jury social media activity.

3. Trial Graphic Creation

Graphics are another important way you get your argument across to jurors. The right use of visual communication tools can simplify complex issues and help jurors zero in on what’s at stake. If jurors don’t understand your graphics, they miss a large part of your argument.

Surprisingly, it’s the little things that make your graphics hard to read, and the last thing you want is for jurors to feel frustration. Every member of the jury is essential to a successful verdict, and your case may turn on quality graphics, so small font sizes, too much detail or other factors can cost you.

Since you are a lawyer and not a graphic artist, you may want to hire an outside firm to take on the task. Come explore our trial graphics services.

Learn our secrets to creating bulletproof trial graphics.

4. Record Retrieval

Gathering records often comes with hassles, including fees to access records charged by hospitals and other institutions. As a lawyer, you may have additional concerns about the security of such records, especially when they involve your client. This is one task you can easily outsource to a company that has the resources and expertise to get the job done.

Magna, for example, has staff across the country to get the records you need for your case. The company provides record retrieval services not only in major cities, but in every ZIP code across the United States. That means Magna can acquire records from anywhere.

Learn more about our record collection services today.

5. Translation Services

Documents may come to you in a different language. It may be challenging and time-consuming for you to translate them to assess relevance, especially when a crucial legal point may rest on a small detail. Even if you speak a language fluently, you may want to offload the translation job to a team of trained experts.

At Magna, our linguists are fluent in countless languages. After their translations are complete, we certify them, so you receive additional assurance about their quality. In short, our translation and interpretation services simplify your working life so that you can focus on the other strategic issues.

Learn more about our legal translation services today.

Get in Touch for More Information

Teamwork is at the heart of a successful legal case. While you and your legal staff focus on the arguments that will bolster your client’s case, you can hire qualified individuals to perform other important tasks. You will be able to give your best legal work to your client while making sure no essential pieces of your case are missing.

Come explore our other jury consulting and discovery services, and request a free quote today.





10 Signs Your Trial Needs Jury Consultants




How Jury Shadowing Can Solidify Your Victory

Empaneling a shadow jury is an effective method of providing your legal team with real-time feedback on the reactions of the actual jury. A shadow jury is a group of people whose personal characteristics match those of the real jurors on a case as closely as possible. This matching goes beyond mere objective demographics. Through a questioning process similar to voir dire, organizers select shadow jurors for their life experiences, attitudes and opinions that reflect those of specific jury members. The shadow jury attends every day of the trial, hearing the same arguments and seeing the same evidence as the real jury. At the end of each day, the jury consultant debriefs the shadow jurors to find out their reactions to that day’s trial proceedings, and they deliver that information to your team. Based on these ongoing responses, your team may adjust the emphasis, method or framing of your case. The following four points show the key benefits that a shadow jury can offer you:

1. Pinpoint Strengths and Weaknesses in Your Case

Even with the best planning, it’s not always possible to predict how jurors will react to the unfolding of a court case. The opposition presents witnesses that antagonize the jurors against your client, and you may find yourself scrutinizing the jury’s body language to glean what they’re thinking. Shadow juries are able to explicitly convey their responses to you, via the jury consultant, so you aren’t left guessing about the effects of the day’s proceedings. They help your team pinpoint areas that need more explanation or focus your presentation to make it more persuasive. Jury shadowing gives you a new interactive agility, tracking where your jurors’ sympathies lie on a daily basis. The American Bar Association’s Litigation News features an example of using a shadow jury, and points out, “Although the trial team did not know exactly what the real jury was thinking, they were able to make meaningful inferences from the shadow jurors’ reactions to the trial.”

2. Identify Strong Juror Opinions

Using a shadow jury helps you recognize which jurors remain undecided, as well as which ones have settled on a strong opinion early in the trial and are inclined to ignore further evidence. A good way to ensure that shadow jurors are not just telling you what they think you want to hear is to keep the shadow jury “blind.” (In other words, they don’t know which side hired them.) This practice enables your jury consultant to receive unvarnished opinions from the shadow jurors, and to recommend specific trial strategies to you based on each day’s feedback. For example, if you are working to defend a client and your shadow jury finds the plaintiff’s witnesses highly convincing, that may give weight to your recommendation that your client settle the case.
Learn the secret to creating bulletproof trial graphics today!

3. Keep an Objective Perspective on the Case Status

You are saturated with the facts of your case, and you may be so focused on presenting those facts in a certain light that you lose sight of how your arguments are perceived by the jury. Sharing a body of information in a coherent, persuasive manner can be surprisingly difficult, and has many hazards: You may inadvertently skip important explanations, because you assume your listeners already understand the underlying concept. Or, you might engage in a lengthy recital of details which seem relevant to you, but which are so dense that the jury loses the thread of your argument. A shadow jury will be able to give you feedback on what they understand, helping you fine-tune your delivery of information.

The jury consultant adds another layer of perspective, as he or she distills and condenses the shadow jury’s responses. With this expert assistance, you are provided with an actionable set of recommendations regarding the shaping of your argument, and your time is used effectively. The use of this type of intermediary also allows the shadow jurors to express their unvarnished opinions of each attorney’s presentations, and this provides you with valuable feedback. In some cases, jury consultants even bring shadow juries together to “deliberate” before your closing arguments, so that you can have a preview of actual jury deliberations.

4. Recognize the Emotional Cues that Resonate

Every juror (and every shadow juror) comes to the trial with their own emotional baggage. This creates a set of filters that influences how these individuals hear and understand the arguments you give. When you have daily feedback from your shadow jury, it’s easy to recognize when you’ve succeeded in eliciting emotions that will cause the actual jury to be sympathetic to your case. Other essential emotional cues concern the jury’s reaction to the personality of your witnesses and experts. For example, you may find that jurors have a negative response to an expert witness whom you’ve hired, and you may decide to minimize that witness’s time on the stand. Visual cues and graphic images also pack a strong emotional punch, and your shadow jury’s response may cause you to fine tune your use of these exhibits in upcoming sessions.

Shadow juries provide the closest insight you can get into the crucial “black box” of the actual jury. Using this valuable research tool can help you to shape your argument, and the feedback from a shadow jury may also be invaluable in persuading your client that a particular course of action will be in their best interest. Learn more about our jury consulting services and contact us today for a free quote.

jury consultant slideshare

4 Secrets to Ensuring Court Reporting Expertise

secrets-to-ensureing-court-reportingLegal experts rely on information to make their case. It is therefore essential that all kinds of information, from historical documents to eyewitness accounts, be properly documented. Without proper documentation, lawyers may lose crucial pieces of the evidence puzzle. In addition, discovery that is not properly documented may not be admissible into a court or may introduce mistakes into the evidence analyzed by both sides in litigation.

Given the importance of court reporting, it’s no surprise that individuals who perform this work take their jobs seriously. Like any profession, however, court reporting firms and their personnel fall on all points of the spectrum of expertise. To make sure that your legal team gets the benefit of premier court reporting, to safeguard the strength of your case and protect your clients’ interests, ask these four questions before contracting for services.

Do They Use the Latest Technology?

Court reporting has evolved significantly over the past three decades. Expert reporters have remained up-to-date on the latest technology and use it to provide expedient, accurate and secure transcripts. While in the early days reporters would take manual shorthand or repeat testimony verbally into a machine, now they make use of digital recordings.

Court reporters may use a variety of high-tech methods. They may monitor and annotate digital recordings and ensure the accuracy of a transcript. Many court reporters do not need to be in the room while testimony is taken, as they stream the proceedings live over an internet connection. These kinds of innovations ensure there is a human being to confirm the content of the transcripts, while relying on the advances of modern technology. When hiring court reporters, you want them to be fast, reliable and accurate.

Are They Part of a Full Service Agency?

Law firms that contract for court reporting services have a full suite of needs. Complex litigation requires not only discovery, but all elements of investigating and building a case. Instead of undertaking a time-consuming and expensive process to find an agency that provides all necessary services, it’s preferable to contract with one company to supply everything you need.

Look for an agency that is not limited to court reporting services. Ask if they also go the extra mile and provide expert service in the areas of record retrieval, courtroom setup services, language translation services, video services and others. Knowing they offer everything you may need means you won’t be left scrambling before a tight court deadline to pull together essential evidence.

Are They a Member of the NCRA?

Dedicated court reporters understand the necessity of properly transcribing the spoken word. As evidence of this commitment, many court reporting firms and individuals are members of the National Court Reporting Association. This association has existed for more than a century and offers education and training programs to ensure members meet the highest standards of the profession.

In addition to high educational and training standards, members of the NCRA adhere to a Code of Professional Ethics. This sets out obligations for ethical conduct toward the public, the bench and the bar. A firm that hires a member of the NCRA, therefore, can rest assured the court reporting has been done in a fair and objective way that both legal counsel and the court can trust.

What Areas Do They Service?

Litigation work happens wherever evidence needs to be gathered. Often, this means lawyers drive many miles into remote areas or have to go to a trial location mandated by the court. Local court reporting services may not have the resources to get where you need them to be, especially on short notice. Even if they are able to fly into town or drive to the site of the deposition or trial, they will likely bill your firm for travel time and accommodation costs.

Ask whether the court reporting service has personnel ready and available within your state and city, so you don’t have to worry about delays. Magna has a broad reach throughout the U.S., so you can rest assured your professional court reporter will be on hand with reasonable notice.

Magna offers clients many benefits apart from its large reserves of professional talent. The firm has experienced people, having been in the industry for a number of years. It has kept pace with changing times in the court reporting industry, using up-to-date software and technology to offer premier services to clients.

Choose the Right Court Reporting Solution

As legal counsel, you have a responsibility to your client to provide the best possible representation. While in-depth legal research and solid arguments are fundamental to making the case for your client, it is also essential that every witness’s testimony is properly documented. In front of a jury or a judge, a case can turn on a single word, and you want to know that evidence has been deposed and recorded in a way that is accurate and objective.

The choice of a court reporting firm is an important one for your firm. With the right services, you can provide your best work to clients who rely on you to safeguard their interests. Learn more about our court reporting services to see if we’re the right solution for you.





View our court reporting services




CBS’ New Show “Bull” vs. Real Life Trial Consulting

CBS' Bull vs Real Life Trial Consulting

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.

Continue reading

5 Things to Look for in the Jury Selection Process

Jury Selection Process

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.

Continue reading