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.
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.
Magna Legal Services Provides Courtroom Graphics and Jury Consultation in Trinity Industries Guardrail Fraud Case
Texas Jury Awards $525 Million to Plaintiff in High-Profile Case
Philadelphia, PA, November 17, 2014 – Magna Legal Services, one of the country’s largest jury research, litigation graphics and court reporting companies, recently played a pivotal role in the $525 million award – after mandatory trebling of a $175 million jury verdict — for its law firm client, Boies, Schiller & Flexner, which represented the plaintiff Josh Harman. Trinity Industries, the highway guardrail maker, was accused of selling systems that can malfunction during crashes and slice through cars. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, the award is the highest in our nation’s history in a whistleblower case in which the federal government declined to join forces with the whistleblower and whistleblower lawyer. Mandatory statutory penalties of as much as $185 million, prejudgment interest and attorneys’ fees are all expected to be added to the $525 million award before the court enters a judgment of approximately $1 billion against Trinity.
The case was brought under the False Claims Act by Harman, who discovered that the company made changes in 2005 to its railhead without telling the Federal Highway Administration. The company sold its guardrails to state governments that in turn received federal reimbursement. Trinity was found by a jury earlier in October to have defrauded the federal government. Magna Legal Services provided its patent-pending revolutionary online jury research focus group product, JuryConfirm, along with graphics consulting and design for the trial, and handled the trial presentation for Boies, Schiller & Flexner.
“As in many of our most significant cases, Magna was there for us every step of the way,” said Nicholas Gravante, Jr. of Boies, Schiller & Flexner, the lead partner on the case. “The personal service and dedication that Bob Ackerman, Rosalie Margolis and their incredible team did by providing graphics design, jury research and trial presentation was instrumental to our success in presenting this case to the jury, which took less than three hours to deliver the record-setting verdict achieved by our team.”
The use of mock trials and compelling visual graphics at trial is increasingly important, especially when conveying complex information for jurors. Scientific research supports the concept that pairing the spoken word with strong visuals allows the presenter to make an effective and lasting argument. Evidence is the key to any trial, and making that evidence clear and concise is the key to having jurors learn and retain the information being presented. The employment of focus groups before the trial provides insight into the minds of prospective jurors and what is needed to better enable the actual panel to understand your case.
“The combination of what is learned from jury focus groups and implementation of that knowledge by our strong graphic design team continues to provide value to litigators with clear, concise information about the best demonstratives to make trial presentations more direct and vivid to juries,” noted Mark Calzaretta, Magna Legal Services partner.
About Magna Legal Services
Magna Legal Services is one of the largest jury research, litigation graphics and court reporting companies in the country, providing end-to-end legal support services to law firms, corporations and governmental agencies from its 18 offices in 13 states throughout the nation. We’ve used companies like Rocket Pilots so you know exactly who we are and how we can help. As an end-to-end service provider, Magna provides strategic advantages to clients by offering legal support services at every stage of legal proceedings. Magna’s mission is to ensure that all legal support needs are delivered in a high quality, reliable and responsive manner.
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