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Mock Trial Research

Mock trials are best used to study the decision path of jurors to a comprehensive presentation of likely evidence and arguments in the case. To best study juror views of issues that affect their interpretation of legal instructions and verdict questions as well as evaluation of damages in a case. To better refine jury selection and jury selection profiles. This is usually conducted after a majority of discovery is completed and after the case has been better defined through the focus groups listed above.
 
Mock Trials are designed to evaluate the dynamic movement of juror decision-making. Mock Trials accomplish five important goals. They: (1) elicit mock jurors’ reactions to core and peripheral evidence and issues that ultimately drive verdict preference; (2) drive development of effective trial strategies in a realistic trial environment; (3) provide attorneys an opportunity to test and assess potential tactics, techniques, evidence, visual aids, and witness presentation and testimony prior to the trial; (4) map out the best decision path for a desired result; and (5) determine the characteristics of individual and jury panel dynamics to assist in formulating a jury selection strategy. This “dry run” of the case is designed to test what is effective and what needs refinement or clarification. The data collected allows trial counsel to evaluate, revise, and strengthen the overall posture of the case prior to settlement negotiations and trial. Using the data and feedback from the jurors we develop not only juror reaction to the case but also methods to reframe and reshape the case presentation to suit the optimal decision path for the jurors.
 
The Mock Trial elicits insights into the attitudes and thought processes of individuals reflective of typical jurors in the venue where the case will be tried. The results enable the trial team to conceive of and articulate the case from the jurors’ perspective, using their words, themes, sequence and story of the issues in the case. Understanding the issue-by-issue formation of juror decisions helps to inform how to best present the case to influence their decision process.
 
The “jurors” fill out questionnaires during the phases of the mock trial:
 
a. Prior to initial participation
b. Post-voir dire and neutral case statement
c. Post-opening statements
d. Post plaintiff/prosecution case (including witness evaluations)
e. Post defense case (including witness evaluations)
f. Post-plaintiff/prosecution rebuttal presentation
g. Post-closing arguments (if needed)
h. Post-deliberation
 
This allows us to track the evolution of juror impressions and decision formation.
 
At the conclusion of the Mock Trial, the jurors are given legal instruction, deliberate, and make their verdict decisions. They are then debriefed on which elements ultimately drove their verdict decisions. The videotaped deliberations, questionnaires, and focus group sessions provide us with the data for analysis and subsequent trial strategy recommendations. We also conduct a statistical analysis of this data to determine characteristics for final jury profiling and selection strategy.
 
At the end of project, we analyze and provide a report on the results. We concentrate our analysis and recommendations on the following areas:
 
1. Initial attitudes, standards, and expectations jurors bring to the case before they hear any evidence.
2. How jurors systematically assemble their version of events by combining, dismissing, re-ordering, and prioritizing the evidence.
3. What counterfactual or extra-legal explanations jurors bring to their interpretation of the case: i.e., emotional reactions, publicity or media stories, personal, friends and family experiences and responses to witness demeanor.
The best themes, framing concepts, story sequences, and visual images to create the most compelling version of the case.
4. Defining the fundamental strengths, weaknesses, and confusion in the case. How to create educational modules or mini-tutorials to overcome the bias and confusion in the case.
5. The attitudes, experiences, and demographics that play out as characteristics of pro-plaintiff/prosecution and pro-defense jurors. How these individual jurors work together as a group.
6. How the jury interprets the legal instructions and verdict questions.
7. How the jury uses their version of the case to create a decision map to answer the verdict questions.
8. How the jury negotiates the final verdict and damages questions. What specific factors increase, decrease or eliminate damages.
 
A statistical analysis of questionnaire responses will measure the significance of these facts, issues, and arguments on verdict preference and assist in compiling a jury profile of pro-plaintiff/prosecution and pro-defense jurors. If desired, electronic “Decision Dial” instruments can be used to measure responses to the attorney and witness presentations during the mock trial.