4 More Myths About Juries

October 19th, 2017|

My recent post, Is There a Perception Problem with the American Jury System?, busted the most common myth about jury duty: that everybody hates it. In this blog post, I’d like to bust four additional myths about juries and jurors, all of which attempt to degrade the reputation of American jurors, and the justice system in general. I passionately believe it’s the best in the world, and that’s largely because Americans who serve on juries take their jobs very seriously. So, fasten your seat belts while I bust a few more myths.   Myth: Jurors do not want to participate Yes.

The Benefits (and Occasional Perils) of Using Statistics in Trial

September 20th, 2017|

A few weeks ago, one of my #TrialTwitter friends asked whether anyone had experience with using statistics in opening statement. It prompted an interesting conversation, but there’s only so much one can share in a 140-character tweet. Hence, this blog post (and the next one, too!). Are statistics ever appropriate for opening statement, witness testimony, a hearing, or even an MSJ? Absolutely. In fact, your presentation (or brief) can actually be more persuasive if it includes statistics. But a statistic isn’t persuasive or powerful simply because it exists. A statistic is persuasive and powerful because of the way it’s incorporated

Is There a Perception Problem with the American Jury System?

August 30th, 2017|

If you search for “jury duty” on social media, you’re likely to find more than a few posts of people whining about it. The litany goes like this: it’s boring, the pay is terrible, the room smells like feet and old cheese – it never ends. While most folks aren’t too keen on the disruption to their daily routine, the vast majority of jurors are committed to fulfilling their duty to serve, and are interested in learning more about the judicial process. The Pew Research Center conducted a study in April and asked respondents how they felt about jury duty. A vast majority — 67% —

Getting a Bigger Bang for Your Litigation Buck

August 7th, 2017|

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to work on hundreds of legal matters. From my perch as a Jury and Trial Strategy consultant, I’ve seen great lawyering and not-so-great lawyering, and I’ve seen legal teams that operate efficiently and teams that operated wastefully. My client and friend Charlie Armstrong, vice president and assistant general counsel at Flowserve Corp., can say the same. So the two of us put our heads together to compile our best advice to in-house counsel for controlling costs in complex litigation. The resulting article, Getting a Bigger Bang for Your Litigation Buck, was published in

Learning About Your Jury from Facebook Likes

July 11th, 2017|

If you’re a trial lawyer preparing for jury selection, it’s likely that the majority of your potential jurors will have a Facebook account. Facebook allows users to “like” just about anything. Musicians. Authors. Television shows. Actors. Books. Politicians. Restaurants. Nonprofit organizations. Political groups. You name it. And these simple “likes” can provide a wealth of information on your jury pool. A psychological sciences study claimed that a computer program could “predict” your personality based on what you “like” on Facebook. The authors stated: “…computers’ judgments of people’s personalities based on their digital footprints are more accurate and valid than judgments made by their close

Googling Your Jury (Part 2)

June 1st, 2017|

Trial teams around the country scour the internet for “jury nuggets.” And many — dare I say most — courts have accepted this practice. Our last blog post addressed ethical and professional standards that (should) guide any internet sleuthing, and Ben Hancock with The Recorder (ALM) recently published a fantastic article on some of the jurisdictional trends. But there’s a very important issue hanging in the air that has received very little attention: What on earth are we supposed to do if (or when) we discover something untoward about a potential juror or actual juror? After all, the information gleaned during an internet

Googling Your Jury (Part 1)

April 20th, 2017|

Let’s be honest: don’t we all want to know as much as humanly possible when evaluating a jury pool and determining motions for cause and peremptory strikes? I dare say the answer is a resounding, “Hell, yes!” The Internet provides a treasure trove of information about pretty much anything we can imagine… including potential jurors. Time and resources permitting, it’s becoming standard practice to “Google” the panel (i.e., scour their online presence). Unless, of course, the judge or local rules prohibit (or strongly discourage) doing so. Enter: opinions and guidelines from the ABA, the Eastern District of Texas, and New

This Jury Did Their City, and the Justice System, Proud

April 18th, 2017|

I don’t know this jury, but I love this jury. My awe has nothing to do with their verdict. It has everything to do with their conduct. Last week, I read an article about a criminal trial involving a Cleveland woman accused of intentionally backing her SUV into her husband (and then putting the car in drive and running over him again, just for good measure). The jury convicted her. But no thanks to the police investigation. According to the article, the jury was none too impressed with that. After the verdict was read, the jury submitted a letter — signed by every juror — to Judge

Do You Need a Mock Trial or a Focus Group?

April 3rd, 2017|

When discussing pretrial jury research, people often use “Focus Group” and “Mock Trial” interchangeably. Although the two are similar, there are a few key differences. This infographic can help: Focus Groups and Mock Trials are not (or should not be) a one-size-fits-all service. Here are two examples of ways they can be tweaked to meet the needs of a particular matter: Combatting information overload: Our client was faced with the challenge of educating potential jurors about extremely complex and nuanced engineering processes, and they were rightly concerned about subjecting participants to information overload. Rather than squeeze all of the complex information

5 Tips for Complying with EDTX Standing Orders on Jury Research

March 15th, 2017|

Our last post addressed the standing orders in the Eastern District of Texas pertaining to jury research and good-old-fashioned Googling. Some have expressed frustration; others have simply abandoned their hopes for gathering feedback or intel on prospective jurors. This post will focus on the standing orders pertaining to pretrial research. In my opinion, none of them grossly limit a trial team’s ability to conduct focus groups, mock trials, community attitude surveys, or any other sort of pretrial research. You simply have to be aware of the orders and conduct your research within the parameters. But first you may be asking yourself, “Why do the orders exist