Case Analysis and Trial Strategy
At TrialTech, we are proud to offer attorneys the ability to have a case analyzed from every aspect. Our professional staff of psychologists, communication and behavioral specialists will examine and determine the presentation mode that will have the greatest psychological effect on the jurors. By reviewing the pertinent documents, participating in brainstorming sessions, and evaluating the relevant research data, recommendations to the trial team are made which will help increase the retention and effectiveness of the important aspects of the case by utilizing sophisticated methods and research into human behavior.
These recommendations include:
- Analysis and development of the trial story.
- Isolating important issues and themes.
- The creation of inspiring opening statements and closing arguments.
- The type of visual aids necessary and the proper sequencing, timing and use at trial.
The use of surveys is becoming more and more important in high stakes or high profile litigation. At TrialTech we use surveys to measure individual and community awareness and predispositions towards case specific issues and themes. The results are presented as a quantitative analysis of the demographic and attitudinal information obtained from the research. Many times, the results can be used to indicate favorable or unfavorable jurors.
Change of Venue Studies
In both civil and criminal cases, changing venue is a process used in the struggle to obtain a fair trial. Juror prejudices due to pre-trial publicity or pre-existing community attitudes are often the primary grounds for seeking such a change. In civil suits, we must also consider the economic variable that could also affect attitudes.
Community Attitude Surveys
Community attitude surveys provide important and useful information about the attitudes of potential jurors on both general and specific aspects of the case, including the parties involved in the litigation. Through the use of community attitude surveys, we learn how bias may affect jurors’ reactions.
Focus groups have been used with great success for many years in the marketing arena to help uncover consumers’ attitudes about new or existing products. Why should a legal case be any different? In legal pre-trial research, focus groups are used to thoroughly analyze issues of the case. Through the use of focus groups, the trial team is given the opportunity to help shape and refine case presentation.
Focus groups involve a balanced presentation of the case to a representative sample of the actual juror population. Mock jurors hear abbreviated arguments presented by the trial team, including the presentation of any demonstrative evidence when necessary. They are then given actual jury instructions and are instructed to deliberate on the issues and reach a verdict.
During the presentation and deliberation period, the mock jurors are carefully observed and evaluated by our team of consultants in the social and behavioral sciences to help pinpoint problem areas which require additional explanation. A detailed report is prepared and recommendations are made. Focus groups can be used as the primary research method or they can be used as the foundation for further research projects such as mock trials. Additionally, focus groups aid in designing relevant voir dire questions and preparing for jury selection.
Mock trials are an extension of focus groups in that they are also qualitative in nature but the difference lies in the quantity of information presented and the methodology. Mock trials can run from several hours to several days, depending on the quantity of information being presented.
In a mock trial, respondents hear opening statements, some key witness testimony and closing arguments, much like an actual trial. As in focus group research, the mock jurors are then given actual jury instructions and are instructed to deliberate on the issues and reach a verdict.
Mock trials are normally conducted much closer to the actual trial date so that the trial team is able to “test” their actual opening statements and closings arguments, and witnesses are given an opportunity to prepare for their actual testimony prior to being in front of the actual jury. Again, as with focus group research, during the presentation and deliberation period, the mock jurors are carefully observed and evaluated by our consultants in the social and behavioral sciences to help pinpoint problem areas which require additional explanation. Once again, a detailed report is prepared and recommendations are made to the trial team.
TrialTech is proud to have a very select group of consultants who employ the most sophisticated methods available today to make a witness a more effective communicator. Communication assistance comes in several forms. Our consultants will form empirical evaluations of your witnesses so that the trial team will be able to reach objective conclusions regarding their usefulness and effectiveness. We will also work with the trial team in preparing specific witnesses for trial or depositions. Through the use of video and other methods, we will be able to make improvements where necessary.
TrialTech believes that effective courtroom communication consists of reinforcing key arguments and facts with the use of graphics thereby increasing the retention level of jurors. Research has shown that jurors remember more of what they see than what they hear. People are basically visual learners not auditory learners. As a means to that end, TrialTech coordinates the production of demonstrative evidence so that the members of the trial team are able to communicate effectively to the jurors. By combining our research results and working with graphic artists, we can effectively produce charts, graphs, illustrations, videos, computer-generated animations, and working models. Additionally, TrialTech now has the capability of supporting a “paperless” trial through the use of the latest developments in computer technology. TrialTech will also coordinate and produce day-in-the-life videos that have been proven to be a very important part of either settlement discussions or favorable jury verdicts.
Voir Dire Consultation and Jury Selection
“Never forget, almost every case has been won or lost when the jury is sworn.” – Clarence Darrow, 1936.
It has been said that a trial is often won or lost during jury selection Whether this is true or not is not the issue. The issue, as we see it, is that we live in a complex world and that demographics alone are very poor predictors of jury verdicts. More important are the life experiences and the psychological characteristics of the juror population.
At TrialTech, we develop a suggested juror profile from extensive pre-trial research. We then develop relevant voir dire questions specifically tailored to not only uncover attitudes, prejudices and bias in the prospective jurors during jury selection, but also to begin the educational process of the case issues and themes.
When allowed by the court, our team of professionals will design a supplemental juror questionnaire (SJQ). It has been supported by the research that the use of a questionnaire will increase the likelihood of self-disclosure by prospective jurors and allow the opportunity to explore potentially prejudicial facts.
During actual jury selection, our professionals will assist the trial team through the observation of both verbal and nonverbal responses, analyze those responses, and help in formulating challenges for cause and the effective use of peremptory strikes.
One of the most effective ways to assess the progress of a case is to have a consultant present during the course of the trial. At TrialTech, we provide trial monitoring services whereby a consultant attends the trial and provides feedback to the trial team on issues such as the effectiveness in the communication of themes, areas requiring further clarification, and jurors’ reactions to witness testimony. These services are extremely beneficial since they allow the trial team to focus on presenting the case while the consultant focuses on providing feedback on the effectiveness of the presentation itself.
During trial, it is not possible to talk to actual jurors and ask for their opinions of the case presentation. Shadow jurors, therefore, play an essential role in determining the strengths and weaknesses of a case. A shadow jury is a group of persons that observes court proceedings and communicates their impressions to the attorney during the trial. The shadow jurors are selected to match the actual jurors as closely as possible based on demographic information and experience. At the end of every court day, the shadow jurors are interviewed to determine what the strengths and weaknesses of the case are and in general as the trial progresses. The purpose of a shadow jury is to reflect the thoughts of the jury and inform the attorneys so that they can periodically reevaluate their strategy. These observations provide invaluable insight into the progress and possible outcome of the case. When used, shadow juries aid in the reassessment of cases and in making more informed decisions throughout the course of the trial.
As a post-trial analytical tool, TrialTech conducts interviews of jurors after the verdict has been reached. Post-trial interviews are unbelievably insightful and often bring to light surprising bases on which actual jurors made their decisions. Although this type of feedback may not have a direct bearing on the case presented, it can play a pivotal role in the trial of similar cases and can be very educative as to future risk assessment.