Mock Jury Research
What is a Mock Jury?
A common technique involves the use of mock juries by lawyers and their firms. A “mock” jury is made up of citizens who closely resemble an actual jury in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, etc. Conducting a Mock Jury can help lawyers prepare for trial.
If you are familiar with the background of tv celebrity Dr. Phil or the tv show “Bull”, you are also aware that you can hire talent whose specialty is the art of selecting jurors based on their personalities, life experiences, and reactions to specific questions or scenarios. The goal is always to create a game plan that increases the odds of winning a case.
Mock Jury Recruitment
To assemble a mock jury for a mock trial, you should aim to recruit individuals who are representative of the jury pool from which jurors are ultimately selected. A general rule of thumb is to over-recruit by at least 2 so that you have 8 or 12 participants.
One can allow the mock jurors to simulate reality be selecting a leader or foreman, but to save time, a moderator can be hired to lead the discussion and assure that opinions are heard from all participants, not just outspoken or assertive ones. A moderator needs to be perceived as neutral, and not representing either side of the case. This individual often can be helpful in screening for participants.
Presentation and Evaluation
There are two ways to present the case. One is live, in person; the other is via a 20-30 minute videotape which presents the key information to be evaluated. Participants can be probed for various elements that led to their decisions, e.g. evidence, exhibits, what and how your client or a witness gave testimony.
Specific words and terms can also be evaluated to determine which ones are best to use with jurors.
It is possible to test and change arguments and ways in which they are presented by both sides of a case (prosecution and defense). Two different attorneys should be used to see whether their quality of presentation or personal characteristics might influence a jury.
Besides a verdict, a mock jury can help gauge the most likely level of liability, and damages that would be awarded.
One might also learn that certain juror demographics are correlated with favorable or unfavorable attitudes toward the client or the attorney.
Since jurors discuss cases behind closed doors, attorneys and their clients have no other way to learn about perceptions unless they conduct mock juries.
Attorneys can observe the process (e.g. deliberations) by which jurors reach their decisions. There is value in having the attorney present (in the back room) to be able to make on the fly comments or submit questions for the mock jury to react to. Videotaping and transcripts of the mock trial can be used later by non-attending counsel.
Benefits of Mock Juries
Results of mock juries are not perfect predictors, but they can give a sense of the direction of the verdict…for or against you.
- At the conclusion of this research, a firm can adjust its strategies and arguments to increase the probability of a positive outcome.
- It might even make sense to repeat this process a second or even third time for a “fine tuning” as the trial date approaches.
- Mock Trials give you important opportunities to rehearse, practice, test messages, and deliver the message with different tones.
- If it appears that your firm has a weak case, it would make sense to settle and avoid the time and cost of a trial. On the other hand, going to court would be appropriate if you feel you have a strong case and a positive outcome.
What makes mock trials important to you is the likelihood that your opposition might very well be doing the same thing!
It is therefore critical to hire a market research company that can recruit the best candidates and create a setting so that the simulation feels real.
And since mock juries are generally observed from outside the room, it is important to use a facility with a focus group room that can fit 12-14 people, a one-way mirror, and/or have an external tv monitor set up for remote transmission. SIS has a Focus Group facility in New York City that is ideal for Mock Jury testing. We provide facilities in most major cities.
About Mock Jury Market Research
SIS International Research has over 35 years of experience in serving law firms, polling companies, accounting firms and Management consulting firms. We have an extensive background in strategy research that positions us well in Legal Market Research and Mock Jury research. SIS has a Focus Group Facility in New York City that is ideal for Mock Jury research. We provide recruitment, facility services, project management, analysis and reporting services.