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Techniques of pre-trial research
Mock juries/deliberation groups
During the screening process, Focus Group Respondents are
scientifically recruited based upon both trial venue demographics
and attitudes to ensure that every group is both demographically
and attitudinally mixed. On the date of the session, presentations
are made to Respondents which may also include live/videotaped
witness testimony. These presentations, highlighting both side's
positions, are followed by the jury charge and group deliberations.
During deliberations the Respondents are left unattended to reach a
decision concerning the key issues of the case. The trial team
observes the proceedings through a video or a two-way mirror.
In addition, carefully crafted written questionnaires are
utilized at various stages of the process to evaluate whether views
have shifted as a result of group interaction. Individual
Respondent's proposed civil liability verdicts and damages awards
or their individual pronouncements as to a criminal Defendant's
guilt/innocence and/or death penalty issues, are elicited before
group deliberations commence. Written questionnaires provide
in-depth and meaningful insight into the typical juror's case
interpretations and the impact of witness testimony.
After deliberations, the moderator and litigation team conduct a
follow-up discussion(s) with the group(s). Evidence, not presented
but clearly needed to convince Respondents, is fully probed.
Questions are asked and answered. Additional evidence, that may or
may not be admitted at trial, can be offered and explored at this
time - the purpose being to gauge the impact this additional
evidence might have upon the verdict.
All research is then analyzed in accordance with social science
techniques and principles. Prosecution/Plaintiff-leaning
Respondents are compared with Defendant-leaning ones. A thorough
analysis reveals which variables were relevant or irrelevant to the
particular case. Pertinent strategies are then designed that would
be persuasive to jurors at trial.
Moderator-lead concept focus groups
The function of Moderator - Lead Concept Focus Groups is to
probe basic attitudes, beliefs and opinions to determine how a jury
might view a particular case. The main features of this pre-trial
methodology are that (1) the format is structured and (2) the
session involves a moderator - lead ongoing discussion among
Respondents. The two-way interaction examines the case issue by
The focus group is recruited as described above. On the date of
the session, a "bare-bones" scenario is introduced. Over the course
of the session, additional facts are offered to gauge impact. As
each new bit of information is added, the moderator elicits
reactions from the Respondents. Members of the trial team observe
the proceedings through a video or two-way mirror. At any time
during the session, the trial team can request that the moderator
follow-up certain aspects of the case for further exploration by
the focus group(s).
Mini focus groups
This pre-trial research methodology allows for more than one
case to be critiqued and evaluated by Respondents during a single
session. Each separate case is presented and assessed for
approximately 2 - 3 hours. The entire length of time required for
the session would depend upon the number of cases to be assessed.
The main objectives of the Mini-Focus group process are to (1)
identify and develop basic themes for two or more cases which would
convince a jury and (2) determine case value for civil matters or
(3) decide criminal case issues.
A typical session would involve the recruitment of one or more
focus groups to hear all of the cases. The essential
elements/issues per case would be offered to all groups, gathered
together in a room set up theatre-style. After one case is
presented, the group(s) would separate for deliberations and/or a
moderator-lead in-depth discussion. The focus groups would then
reassemble to hear the second case and separate again for
deliberations and/or discussions. Members of the trial team observe
all proceedings through a video or two-way mirror.
Mock trials are the most comprehensive technique used in
pre-trial research. They differ from Mock Jury/Deliberation,
Moderator-Lead and Mini-Focus Groups in that they provide a full
dress rehearsal for the trial team, allow witnesses to practice
their entire testimony and provide Respondent reactions to all
issues, facts and the law.
Mock trials may be conducted in one eight to ten - hour day or
over the course of several days. Evidence can be presented by live
witnesses, videotape depositions, actors and/or detailed attorney
presentations. This format provides for almost unlimited tests of
Demographic/ venue Surveys
Demographic/Venue Surveys assist the trial team and litigants in
understanding the broad issues operating in a particular geographic
area and how people would react to them. Surveys are particularly
useful when the case involves issues directly affecting the
community where the trial is located or when issues have wide
public exposure. There could be local pressures, conditions and
situations creating questionable influence upon prospective jurors.
Surveys are a good methodology to employ in order to ferret out
these harmful attitudes and biases, including the impact of media
coverage. In addition, Demographic/Venue Surveys can be
particularly useful when a change of venue is sought.
Entities such as the government, insurance companies, the legal
system,, etc. can be tested quantitatively (100 - 1000 or more
interviews) to assess related attitudes and biases. Jurors' core
beliefs can be obtained on a regional/county basis concerning the
general issues involved in a wide variety of legal cases including
medical malpractice, personal injury, products liability,
employment discrimination, commercial litigation, toxic torts,
criminal, etc. This data, obtained through telephone
questionnaires, can pinpoint the connection between potential
jurors' local biases, psychological make-up and demographic
characteristics, thus minimizing guesswork in jury selection.
Results can also help trial attorneys develop strategies for
dealing with both general and case-related juror
The firm's team of consultants utilize their expertise and
experience to consult with trial attorneys and their clients to
determine fact-finder issues and case themes, conceptualize
demonstrative evidence, determine legal issues that will be
confusing or critical to the fact-finder and pinpoint other
pertinent matters that are essential in the pending civil or