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Ghost Notes

September 17th, 2020|

I’ve been thinking recently about how one ever demonstrates that nothing happened because something did happen. Specifically, with regard to the protests over police shootings, police abuse, etc., how does one demonstrate that new policies make a difference? The difference is noticed only when nothing happens. Undoubtedly, most police officer shootings happen because the officer had no choice other than to prevent being killed himself/herself, or to prevent someone else from being killed/injured. In other words, they are “good” shoots. But, with regard to the “bad” police shootings/arrests/killings, the only way to know if, for example, new policies on

Nuclear Verdicts: Part 2

August 20th, 2020|

Face it, some trials are bad, there is liability, there are real damages. Evaluating those honestly and without bias is what we, as trial consultants, help our clients accomplish. And, that said, the other issue in mock jury research when we work for the defense is that the plaintiff’s argument, when presented during the mock jury exercise, is roleplayed by someone on the trial team and often falls flat. It is critical in mock jury research that “the other side’s” arguments are as strong as, or stronger than, what the actual opponent will say and do. Over the years, this

Nuclear Verdicts: Part 1

August 13th, 2020|

Boom – the verdict is in and it is explosive, shocking everyone involved. These verdicts are referred to “nuclear verdicts,” with the implication that they are both large and unreasonable. I read about this phenomenon regularly. It is a trend that frightens one side of the “v.” – the defense side, and emboldens the other side, the plaintiff’s. It was not long ago that the term was “runaway verdict.” Regardless of the term, much is written about certain large verdicts, verdicts which, according to what is written, came as a surprise to the defendants. There are many explanations, including public

“I’ll be there on time if…”

June 23rd, 2020|

Magnus Research Consultants has, for many years, employed on a part time basis people who work with us exclusively on research days. We call our wonderful part time staff members Research Technicians because they handle numerous technical aspects of our research, including video camera operation, video editing, and oversight of our mock jurors. The majority of Magnus’ Research Technicians are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and they are from various countries including Haiti, Jamaica, The United Kingdom, Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Peru, to name a few that immediately come to mind. We travel all over the United

Working Remote – Transparency

May 28th, 2020|

In this time of forced social distancing, with many people working remotely from home or on quarantine, I have been using some of my time to make calls or otherwise contact clients about outstanding proposals, etc. I always have a stack of people to call upon, so I’ve been reaching out. The results of these contacts have been enlightening on an issue I hadn’t considered. That is, how lawyers, and their staff, “manage” the impressions they create when working remotely. Melissa and I have, for a long time, worked remotely. Our “real” work always has a remote component when

It’s all guesswork…

April 9th, 2020|

I was recently discussing with a client Melissa’s involvement as a trial consultant during jury selection. The attorney was well seasoned, has had many trials, but has never engaged a trial consultant to assist during jury selection. And, like most attorneys these days, the opportunities to conduct jury selection, and go to trial, with everything a trial involves, is limited by the shrinking number of trials. In other words, attorneys don’t get the practice they once did. Melissa, on the other hand, works for many lawyers and thus, is in trial for jury selection more than most attorneys. For

Judges are People: Some are nice and others, not so nice

March 24th, 2020|

Judges are people, just like the rest of us. There are many types of judges, young, old, women, men, smart, not so smart, nice, and not nice. In my years of working as a jury/trial consultant, I have encountered many judges. I have met judges during hundreds of jury selections; I have made presentations with judges as audience members; some of my clients are/were former judges; some of my clients have become judges; and I was once in a rock band with a judge (obviously, a pretty cool judge!). Therefore, unlike most people, I have a lot of familiarity with

Trial Team Crew

March 19th, 2020|

Once again, I was reminded about the people who support the lead trial attorney. The lead attorney and 2nd chair attorneys get the attention, like the rock star. Like Ozzy, Mick, or Geddy, who are lead singers, the lead attorneys are in the spotlight (or hot seat). But, behind them, there is often a small army, or at least a platoon. The associates, paralegals, assistants, secretaries, receptionists, IT staff, and experts, consultants and many others work in support roles to assist the lead attorney in all aspects of litigation. As trial consultants, we depend on various parts of this army

Free Advice on Selecting a Jury

March 3rd, 2020|

As a follow up to my previous post regarding my day of jury duty, this post will involve some free advice to attorneys. I rarely provide free advice, but my observations during my jury service warrant it. When the plaintiff’s attorney in the automobile accident case on which I was a prospective juror began to question me about my suitability as a juror in the case, the first question he asked me was whether I was critiquing his jury selection strategy. Both he and I knew the answer to his question was a resounding, “Yes, of course!”, however, I replied,

A Jury Consultant’s View of Jury Duty

February 25th, 2020|

I recently had the privilege of being summoned to appear for jury duty in Broward County, Florida, where I have lived for almost 30 years. Unlike almost everyone I know, I was not dismayed, afraid, or angry to receive my jury summons. I was, in fact, somewhat happy about it, as well as hopeful that, while it was doubtful I would ever be selected for the jury, I would at least make it to the voir dire process that is part of every jury selection. I made it! I was Juror #4, seated in the jury box, on a civil