Many times, attorneys believe they have determined the key themes of their case that will predict a verdict. Often, they will contemplate their trial strategy by discussing the major case issues with other attorneys. However, when a jury panel consisting of laypersons listens to a case, their views and perceptions are often quite different from those of trained legal professionals.
During pre-trial research, panels of jury eligible citizens are presented with the major facts of the case and then asked to deliberate and reach a verdict. After a mock trial or focus group, the quantitative and qualitative data are analyzed to determine the consistent themes across jury panels. Case themes that are consistent across groups can be expected to influence the impaneled jury for the trial. This research allows the attorney to strategize trial presentation and target it directly to a jury.
Focus Group or Mock Trial Formats
Pretrial research can be conducted in either a focus group or mock trial format. An interactive focus group allows you to respond to questions from the mock jurors throughout the event and is particularly useful at the beginning stages of case development.
Focus groups can be conducted in abbreviated, half-day sessions or in full day sessions. Multiple focus groups are optimal to examine the consistency of response across mock jury panels. As the trial date approaches and you are ready to practice your presentation in a more formal, structured format, a mock trial will best suit your needs.
Mock trials typically require a full day session. During a mock trial, participants playing the role of jurors are exposed to the arguments on each side of the case and are then asked to deliberate and determine a verdict. The trial team may view the deliberation from a separate viewing room. During a final debriefing session, interaction between the mock jurors and the facilitator allow for deeper probing into the psyche of the juror.