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No One Has Ever Said They Wish Their Jury Research Had Been Later

February 16th, 2021|

In almost 30 years of owning and operating Magnus Research Consultants, David and I have been fortunate to have few complaints from clients. When there have been complaints, they have been of the following type: (1) “Your report is too long and comprehensive; it took too long for me to read”; (2) ”The charts summarizing questionnaire responses were hard for me to understand”; and, most common among the complaints, (3) “I waited so long to do the mock trials that it was too late for me to change my trial strategy to incorporate your suggestions for trial strategy.” Again, I

Mercy of the Court

February 11th, 2021|

Twice this week, when talking with clients, or prospective clients, I’ve been told they are waiting on the judge to do something. The language they used was “I’m at the mercy of the court.” Their lamentations are painful reminders of the nature of our work. Often the idea of “mercy of the court” is mentioned, in life and in entertainment, in the context of “throwing oneself on the mercy of the court” when it comes to criminal sentencing. This post is NOT about that. It is about the Court’s (a.k.a. the judge’s) ability to impact the timetable of litigation. Setting

PowerPoint Exhibits: Good-Bad-Ugly

January 21st, 2021|

I had an interesting conversation today with a client who was preparing a PowerPoint presentation for an upcoming mock trial. As we discussed his plan, he mentioned that he was planning to use 20 slides for a 10 minute presentation. I tactfully suggested that 1 slide every 30 seconds is too many. This led to a discussion beyond his case during which I explained that PowerPoint should not be used as a script. Whether for a trial, a business meeting, or for any type of presentation, using PowerPoint (or any related electronic presentation tool) as a script is a bad

When is the Last Time You Learned Something?

December 29th, 2020|

One of the strangest objections I have heard, relatively often, during my career as a jury/trial/litigation consultant goes something like this: “Well, I have been a VERY successful trial lawyer for many, many years and I have never, ever, hired a trial consultant. What in the world could I possibly learn from you, or another so called jury expert, that I don’t already know?”. Wow! Talk about being closed minded! Thinking that one knows everything there is to know about human behavior, jury decision making, group dynamics, or cognitive psychology, social psychology (particularly when, as an attorney, one has zero

Technology simplifies our lives, right?

December 10th, 2020|

Another clean out story. In purging the old equipment to prepare for the Magnus’ move to new office, we came across VCRs, VHS tapes, cassette recorders, cassette tapes, DVD duplicators, and more. These are a history of the technology evolution in our lives. Yet, it was also a reminder of simpler times. When we first started Magnus, and for Melissa, at prior companies, VHS video cameras were state of the art. There were different “grades” of cameras, from “amateur” to “broadcast quality” but ours fell in the class of “prosumer.” We used external microphones and some good cameras to

Putting Technology to Use

December 3rd, 2020|

I was prompted to write this, and the prior post, because of Magnus’ recent move. The move necessitated discarding many tools which have been useful during our careers in trial consulting. When we started Magnus in late 1993, Melissa began to receive invitations to speak to groups of lawyers, insurance adjusters, and law school students. This move made me reflect on the evolution of the technologies we have used for these presentations. We started with the text slides I wrote about previously. When Melissa made presentations to these groups, her outline was projected using a Kodak slide projector and

Show Don’t Tell

November 26th, 2020|

Trial exhibits are a big part of all properly conducted litigation. Most lawyers learned long ago that showing, and not just telling, is important. Some lawyers are more effective than others with this but most of them seem not to think visually. Once again, it’s Rush to the rescue. The first track on their 1989 Presto album was “Show Don’t Tell.” Neil Peart’s lyrics for the song include the words “You can twist perception. Reality won’t budge!” That sums up the reason it is important to show, not just tell. (The song has allusions to a courtroom experience.) Of

Chokehold of Technology

November 12th, 2020|

Technology is great, except when it isn’t. As written in a prior post, Magnus relocated its office. Moving furniture and artwork is one thing, moving computers, phones, etc. is quite another. We were fortunate in that our new office space was pre-wired in a way that was easily adaptable. What was unanticipated was the degree of difficulty in moving and setting up our existing equipment in the new place. We didn’t expect the amount of trouble we had in the form of system failures! The copier/scanner is heavy and cumbersome to handle and it took a hit during the move.

Panic codes – “Buddy”

October 8th, 2020|

This is the 3rd and final post about panic at the mock jury research. Things happen. Bad things. Some are technical, some may involve the client, and some may involve the mock jurors. But, there are things about which some people would panic, which are better discussed outside the presence of the clients or mock jurors and only amongst members of the trial consulting team. Many years ago, we devised a protocol, called the “Buddy” procedure, to implement when something bad happens. Under this protocol, if something arises demanding my or Melissa’s attention, away from the clients, the team

Online Mock Jury Research

October 6th, 2020|

Magnus Research Consultants has entered the online age and now offers Verdict Perception Research among our other services. Verdict Perception Research involves recruiting jury eligible citizens from a trial venue who watch pre-recorded presentations (arguments) made by attorneys regarding a lawsuit, then deliberate until they reach a unanimous verdict. While there are many differences between traditional, in person, mock trials and focus groups, if conducted properly, online mock trials can aid attorneys and their clients in assessing the strengths and weaknesses of their cases. As with just about anything else, there are many variants of online mock jury research, with