2’s Company – Magnus Insights

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The problem isn’t the problem. The problem is the response.

November 1st, 2018|

Stuff happens (you may have seen this phrase as a bumper sticker with a different “S” word). That’s right, things happen. Lightning strikes. Gremlins materialize. In our trial consulting work, there are frequent technical issues that lead to problems. With competent staff, they are kept to a minimum, but there are times when, for example, the closed circuit TV feed is bad because a cable is having a bad day. (I say bad day because inevitably we’ll switch the cable, and then, when we are back at the office after the project, try to replicate the problem, only to have

Getting the Most from Research – Digging In

October 25th, 2018|

A recent Wall Street Journal article (August 11-12, 2018) entitled “To Get the Most Out of Polls, Delve Deeper” prompted this post. Though this post was about political polls and pollsters, there were several points relevant to the world of trial consulting. One quote caught my attention, “…, remember that neither a candidate’s polling percentage nor any other single number will give you the full picture—any more than a price tag really tells you how a bottle of wine will taste,….”. We have often worked with seemed attorneys who were, perhaps, new to using mock trials, and who focus on

Get it Right – The First Time & Every Time

October 18th, 2018|

Not too long ago, I attended a lawyers’ luncheon at which the speaker was the president of the Florida Bar. He made a few comments about various challenges lawyers face with their clients, specifically, the expectation by the client that they essentially have all of the answers so that they get it right the first time, and every time. That’s a pretty tall order, but it sums up the expectations. In the types of high stakes cases in which we get involved, the pressure is on high for everyone! Good lawyers know there are limits to what they know and

Shaman Trial Consultant

October 11th, 2018|

I’ve been on a bit of a “tear” lately about caveat emptor. Hiring a trial consultant requires due diligence because, unfortunately, it doesn’t take much to hold oneself out as a trial consultant. A lawyer, a physician, a plumber, an electrician or a hairstylist has to be tested and licensed. We don’t. While there has been a debate about this in a few states, I have concluded that licensing or “accrediting” would do little good and it certainly would not indicate whether the consultant would be a good hire for a given client/case. Instead, it is left to the consumer

When a Client’s Focus is Cost, Beware

October 9th, 2018|

Some people, including attorneys and insurance adjusters who are potential clients of Magnus, are more focused on obtaining the lowest price for whatever they are buying than the quality of what they are buying. Other people, in contrast, want the very best products or services money can buy. Most people, of course, fall somewhere between these two extremes in their desire to buy something of quality for an affordable price. Magnus’ services have never, ever, been cheap. We are never the “low price leader” among jury/trial consultants. Therefore, when we determine a prospective client’s focus is on hiring the lowest

When losing is winning. Part 2.

September 27th, 2018|

Following on “When losing is winning. Part 1,” I’m writing now about another phenomenon that has been covered a bit in other posts. That is, defining winning. On the defense side of civil and criminal cases, some of them are, technically speaking, losers. That is, an outright defense verdict is unlikely no matter what – the liability/guilt is there. It is, however, possible for a plaintiff’s or prosecutor’s verdict to still be a win for the defendant. That is, though the criminal defendant gets found guilty, if it is of a lesser charge than the worst possible, this is a

When losing is winning. Part 1.

September 20th, 2018|

Everyone wants to win, right? This post is being written to say winning isn’t everything. At least not in a mock trial. Regardless of whether it is a mock jury, mock arbitration, mock bench trial, or whatever, the process is not about winning. It is about debugging the case. It is about finding the problems (and looking for solutions to them). This means testing the worst case scenario. So, the judge hasn’t ruled if this or that is in the case. Fine, test whatever would be worse for the case. I had a conversation with a potential client this week

Objective Data for Better Decisions – Proof for Others

August 23rd, 2018|

I had a conversation yesterday with a client that prompts this post on a topic I’ve had on hold for sometime. When a trial consultant conducts mock jury research, or mock arbitration, or a mock bench trial, the consultant is collecting objective data to report to the client as to the specific results or verdicts by the participants. Using these data, the consultant formulates mediation, arbitration, and trial strategies. That is, we, as trial and jury consultants, in researching the reactions of the fact finders of the case, are building information for the client (attorney) and his/her clients – the

Better Safe than Sorry

August 16th, 2018|

A client of ours recently told me his motto was better safe than sorry. This was in the context of setting a meeting and allowing adequate time for Miami traffic – which can be a real challenge. But, his motto is something I’ve often thought about and attempted to use, tactfully, with potential clients who are on the fence about conducting mock jury research. Over the past 25+ years working with attorneys, I’ve talked with many who were unsure whether it was “worth the money” to conduct jury/fact finder research when they think they have a pretty good handle on

Jurors and the Internet

August 2nd, 2018|

During my recent jury duty experience, I noticed posters around the assembly room entitled “Juror Responsibilities Regarding the Internet and Social Media” produced by the National Center for State Courts and Center for Jury Studies. I am well aware of the issues related to jurors and social media or the internet. And, I think I’d seen a mock up of this poster in the past in NSSC emails. But, being in the assembly room and seeing it on the wall, I had a different reaction than when I’d seen it previously. The poster states: “FAIRNESS TO THE PARTIES IN ALL