Memorial Day Consulting Savings

I’d like to offer to any attorney who is a Veteran or to any attorney who has a client who is either active duty or Veteran 25% off of any of my services, including but not limited to:

  • Focus Groups
  • Case Analysis
  • Editing Opening Statement
  • Voir Dire Prep
  • Witness Prep
  • Formulation of Rules of the Road
  • Etc…

To take advantage of this, please reference Memorial Day when contacting me. A contract for work to be done must be signed no later than June 15th (although work can be done at a later date).

Feel free to pass this along to others as well.

Thank you to all that serve!

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NEW: Contingency Fees for Trial Consulting

My passion has always been for the “little guy” but even within Plaintiffs work, there seems to be a disparity of resources depending on the size of the case. I would like to offer consulting services to every case, large and small. Toward that end, I am opening my consulting practice to take on some cases by contingency. This could be a large case where you would simply rather not risk any further outlay of money up front or a smaller case where the initial investment for consulting help is too steep. Every case is different and I will need to speak with you about your specific case and financial needs to work out the details. If you would like to talk with me about doing some consulting work on contingency, please contact me.

Trialstrategist@gmail.com

303-653-2233

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Holmes (Aurora Theater Shooting) Jury Selection Q&A

With the Holmes jury selection underway and the whole world watching, I thought it relevant to tap into some of the issues that are likely to be raised by the media and inquiring minds. One of the largest nets has been cast over Arapahoe County, Colorado, to find an “unbiased” group of jurors for the infamous trial. Holmes is facing murder charges and, should a jury disregard his insanity defense, a death penalty. This makes for an interesting jury selection due to the notoriety of the case as well as the issues of insanity, death qualification, and Colorado’s unusual law requiring the Prosecution to prove sanity. Let me address some general questions that will arise as the jury selection moves forward:

1. What happens to jurors who are potential jurors but who have not yet been selected?  Jury selection in this case is scheduled to take a couple months. This raises some interesting questions such as “What happens when a juror is questioned and then released back into their normal life for a couple months before trial starts?” It will potentially help some jurors get their lives in order for the impending long trial, but it also gives them time to potentially be bombarded with media information about the case. Although jurors are instructed not to look up anything about the case or read about it, it will be hard to avoid all day around work colleagues and friends especially when the potential juror doesn’t even know if they are yet on the jury.

2. For large cases like this, how do attorneys know what types of jurors they are looking for? Attorneys have likely run a series of focus groups to aid with jury selection and case strategy. Often jurors in focus groups reveal pivotal issues that the attorneys would never have considered. Those issues then need to be crafted into voir dire questions that can elicit honest discussion about juror viewpoints. In addition, attorneys may do some mock jury selection with focus group participants to practice honing in on question format as well as making sure to connect with the jury, get truthful answers (which is an art in itself), and keep up with any time limitations set by the court. Attorneys will be delving deep with jurors to find out their biases and beliefs. In a case such as this, the Defense will be looking for people who believe that mental illness can have a real effect and who are willing to follow the law regarding insanity. The Prosecution will likely be looking for jurors who are more emotional about the case and who are more apt to believe that a killing whether done in a moment of insanity or not, is a killing worthy of 1st degree murder and the death penalty.

3. What types of questions can attorneys ask to reveal hidden bias? Attorneys often need to focus on lowering the barriers to “bad answers.” What you want to hear from jurors are their honest viewpoints and often those viewpoints or biases are hard to hear when you are advocating for one side or the other. An example of a bias would be a reporter who is asked to sit as a juror on a First Amendment rights case where the reporter would obviously have a personal opinion on First Amendment rights of the press. Another example would be a doctor or nurse as a potential juror on a medical malpractice case. There is often a concern that the biases could “contaminate” the rest of the jury pool. In my opinion, this is not a valid concern. The chances of someone changing their deeply held views simply because a stranger sitting next to them voiced a conflicting viewpoint are slim to none. Therefore, attorneys need to focus on bringing forth those biases, embracing them, thanking jurors for their honesty, and using the voiced biases to generate more honest discussion.

4. What about Stealth Jurors or jurors who want a book deal out of this? The concern is less about jurors wanting a book deal per se as that is not very common, but more about jurors who may want some sort of media recognition or power. Attorneys will need to look for people who seem to want their 15 minutes of fame or who are excited about serving in this case. Those would be red flags. As for stealth jurors (or jurors who have an agenda), it is a real concern without a good solution. Stealth jurors do exist and jurors do sometimes lie to try to get on a jury. In this case, jurors could have very strong feelings about the death penalty or this defendant in particular and want to get on the jury to make a statement. The only way to find a stealth juror is through comprehensive questioning and coming at them at every angle. Attorneys should also be looking for changes in body language or tone of voice when a juror answers mundane questions as compared to when they answer more case-specific questions. Changes in nonverbal communication CAN be ONE indication of deception.

5. In a case like this, how can stress impact jurors and their decision making? How can attorneys screen for jurors who will hold up best under the stress to decide a verdict based on the evidence and not emotion? Stress can become an issue even in less high profile cases. I’ve interviewed many jurors post-verdict and if the evidence is personal to them in any way or they feel a connection to a party or witness, the trial can be emotionally taxing for them. Those same jurors, however, express a sense of civic duty to pay close attention and to listen to even the most horrific testimony. Attorneys need to be sensitive to the nature of the case and discuss the difficulty in seeing unsettling images or hearing heart wrenching testimony. Some people are better equipped to deal with such evidence than others. As for deciding a verdict based on the evidence and not emotion, this is a problem in every case, including civil cases where jurors could feel sympathetic to an injured party or to the person being sued. The law is that sympathy can be felt but cannot be a part of the verdict. The task for the defense in this case is to emphasize to jurors that emotion is human and feeling it is allowed but deciding a verdict on it is not. The defense attorneys will be looking for jurors who are able to follow the law regardless of their emotions. The prosecution, on the other hand, will benefit from jurors who have a hard time setting their emotion aside.

6. Do attorneys choose based on demographics or are they more concerned with questioning the individual? Attorneys may ask some of those questions and it can provide SOME information on jurors but what matters most is the individual. Jury selection based on demographics simply does not work in the vast majority of cases. It could be that certain groups of people will have had similar experiences in life and therefore are more likely to think a certain way but attorneys would want to confirm that with multiple focus groups and even when there may be a correlation, people are individuals and it could be a costly mistake to assume a juror will harbor one bias or viewpoint based on demographics alone.

As the trial progresses, it will be interesting to see who the jurors are and how they handle the evidence.

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Juror Insight Focus Group DVDs – Video Previews and Sale Info

About 6 months ago, I posted that I would be running six different focus groups on issues most central to trial lawyers. The focus groups are finished and ready for sale. Below you will find details about the focus group content. This is a way to get focus group feedback extremely inexpensively.

I recruited two groups of jurors from Denver and the surrounding areas and tested three topics with each group. In addition, when you purchase a DVD, I will send you a list of some time stamped talking points where I give my commentary and feedback on what the jurors are saying. This gives you an opportunity to get consultant feedback on the focus group as you are watching it.

Here is a link to my YouTube account where you can view previews of each of the DVDs:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCExd3xfiDbImJ1Gh43g0jBw

Here is a synopsis of some of the topics covered in each of the DVDs.

PREMISES LIABILITY

Included in this disc are two panels of juror discussions regarding:

  • Who is responsible for keeping public premises safe
  • Expectations of store owners regarding wet floors from rain, snow, or spill
  • Responsibility of the injured party
  • Fixed versus temporary hazards
  • Safety sweep time schedules
  • Uneven concrete walkways
  • And more…

LOW SPEED CAR CRASHES

Included in this disc are juror discussions regarding:

  • Possible injuries from low speed crashes
  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Injuries compiling on one another from  previous crashes
  • Brain injury from low speed impacts
  • And more…

 PRODUCTS LIABILITY

Included in this disc are juror discussions regarding:

  • Responsibility of a company to make a product safe
  • Responsibility of the user of the product
  • New safety designs and duty to implement them in products
  • Warnings versus design safety
  • Minimum Federal safety standards
  • And more…

 INSURANCE BAD FAITH

Included in this disc are juror discussions regarding:

  • Expectations of the claims handling process
  • Insurance delay tactics
  • Independent Medical Examiners
  • Claims handlers ignoring treating doctor opinions
  • Claims handlers’ use of statistics to determine whether an insured is injured
  • Litigation syndrome
  • And more…

 MILD TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY

  • Video case study of actual MTBI client
  • Impact required to cause MTBI
  • Symptoms of MTBI
  • Concussion
  • MBTI vs. Depression
  • And more…

 MEDICAL MALPRACTICE

Included in this disc are juror discussions regarding:

  • Coordination among care providers
  • Expectations on accurate record keeping
  • Who is responsible for follow up
  • Good intentions of care providers who “made a mistake”
  • Differential diagnosis
  • And more…

 

ORDERING INFORMATION:

The DVDs range from 35 minutes to over an hour long. They are priced at $300 each or $1200 for all six.

Keep in mind that the contents of the DVDs are valid measures only for one group of Colorado mock jurors. Due to differences in juror demographics, if you are looking to apply the results of this discussion to a specific case, it is highly recommended that you do separate focus groups to test issues with jurors in your specific venue. The information contained in the DVDs is meant to be SOME information about how jurors perceive these issues.

If you would like to order, please contact me directly at trialstrategist@gmail.com and specify what you would like to order. I will send you a bill and once payment is received, I will ship out your order.

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Revised Focus Group Cost Share Project

A month or so ago I offered a chance to take part in a cost-share focus group set. I had a good number of people interested but very few contracts and deposits were received by the deadline. In following up with people as to why they did not send in payment, I received feedback that prompted a change in plans in order to try to meet everyone’s preferences, concerns, and wishes.  Instead of doing a cost-share with individual slots, I will be running focus groups on the following six (6) topics and recording the groups. I will then sell copies of the focus group DVDs to anyone interested either individually or as a set. Pricing will likely be:

 

$275 per focus group DVD

$1200 for the set of all six (6) focus group DVDs

 

Topics:

  1. Premises Liability
  2. Mild Traumatic Brain Injury
  3. Low Speed Impacts
  4. Expectations of Doctors and Care Providers (Communication, Diagnosis, Compared to Patient’s Responsibilities)
  5. Products Liability
  6. Insurance Companies & Bad Faith

 

I will be doing three topics at the end of August and three at the end of September. I will keep you all appraised as to when DVDs are ready for sale.

 

IF THERE ARE ANY QUESTION OR SUB-TOPICS YOU WANT INCLUDED IN THE FOCUS GROUPS, PLEASE EMAIL ME YOUR QUESTIONS OR TOPIC AREAS. If they are testable topics or questions, I am happy to include them in my scripts.

 

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

 

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Focus Group Cost Share Details

For those who were potentially interested in the focus group cost sharing, here are the finalized details. I want to stress that YOU DO NOT NEED TO DO ANY PREP WORK, NOR DO YOU NEED TO SHOW UP LIVE. The main benefit is in receiving the DVD footage of the focus groups as well as having the opportunity to request an individual slot to test something specific to your case for only $500. There is some confusion with people thinking they don’t have time on their schedules but otherwise would be interested. This should take no time on your schedule. You may attend one (or more if there is room) focus groups live but that is certainly not required. Here are the details:

 

1.      Setup: There will be a total of 8 topics tested. Two will be tested at a time with the same jury. This means that each month, on a Saturday, there will be a group of 6-8 jurors present. Jessica Brylo will lead hour-long discussions about 2 of the 8 topics. The next month, with a different jury, another two topics will be tested and so forth until all 8 topics have been tested.

2.    Cost:  $1695 for all 8 topics (that’s $211 per hour-long focus group! Including costs!!!). Individual sessions are extra (see below) but still GREATLY discounted from what it would cost you on your own.

3.    Dates, times, & topics tested: 4th Saturday of each month. The focus groups will usually run from 9am-11am. However, if there is an individual session that needs to be run before the topics (this will depend on what is being tested) then the topic testing may be moved to 10 or 11am. We will let you know of this change a few weeks before the session. YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED TO SHOW UP. YOU ARE BUYING DVD COPIES OF THESE FOCUS GROUPS. You will be guaranteed a right to attend one focus group live IF YOU WISH and maybe more if we have room.

     a.    July 26: Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries & Products Liability (the need to go above mandated standards, responsibility of owner vs manufacturer, etc)

     b.    August 23: Expectations of Doctors/Care Providers & Insurance Bad Faith

     c.    Oct 25: Premises Liability & [Tentatively] Feelings About Attorneys/Legal System

     d.    Sept 27: Low Impact Car Crashes & [Tentatively] Hodgepodge of Smaller Issues (i.e. pre-existing injuries, aggravation of injuries, suing the well-intentioned good people, etc)

4.    Rights to view live: We cannot fit everyone in the viewing room so you are guaranteed a right to come watch at least one focus group. If there is room, we will send an email to alert you ahead of time and if you would like to attend another focus group live, you may ask to come. Spots will fill on a first-come, first-serve basis. We will fit as many in the room as we can squeeze.

5.    DVDs: You will receive DVD copies of all focus groups. If you attend live, you may have the DVD before leaving. If you do not attend live, a copy will be mailed to you.

6.    Individual slots: There will be a maximum of 8 individual one hour slots up for grabs. This means that we will recruit jurors to stay for an extra 1-2 hours after the topic testing in order to test your case issues. This is NOT enough time to do a full focus group on a full case. It is helpful, however, if you are early in your case and want guidance for discovery on some issues, testing exhibits, doing some voir dire practice, etc. For more information on this, contact Jessica Brylo directly. Slots will cost an extra $500/hour to cover extra juror pay, video fees, and consulting time, plus an extra $275/hour for any time Jessica Brylo spends coordinating ahead of time with you to create the focus group script. We need to know 3 weeks ahead of time if you want to reserve an individual slot in order to recruit the jurors. The $500 payment will be due 3 weeks ahead as well. And remember, the spaces are first-come, first-serve so they may fill quickly.  Everyone is not guaranteed an individual slot. 

 

if you are interested, please contact me ASAP. Trialstrategist@gmail.com

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Focus Group Opportunity

This is an opportunity to get focus group feedback at a greatly discounted price by sharing costs among numerous attorneys. I will be coordinating this venture locally in Denver but it is open to anyone nationwide. There are two opportunities:

1. In this initial series I will be covering 8 different general topics with various groups of jurors, two topics per month for four months, and converting the footage to DVD. Examples of these topics include:

  • Expectations of doctors or care providers regarding coordination of care, asking questions to elicit a proper diagnosis, wait times, etc.
  • Expectations of stores regarding safety of the premises: How often do they need to be checked for safety? Does the expectation differ depending on the store or property type? What is reasonable to expect?
  • Feelings about corporations and profit motive
  • Feelings about federal standards in product manufacturing and the need to go above standards
  • Attitudes about insurance companies
  • And more topics…

I will give each topic 50 minutes and will be leading concept focus groups on each of these topics. I will be gathering a number of interested attorneys to share costs of these focus groups. Depending on how many attorneys are interested, the expense for the full 8 topic set is likely to be in the $1,000-$2,000 range.

2. If you want other things specific to your case… would like to reserve a 1-2 hour slot following one of these focus groups, I will test anything specific to your case and the fixed costs will remain low as they will have already been split among yourself and the other attorneys. This means no extra fees for venue, recruiting, food for jurors, etc. It will require an extra $25/hour per juror for their time, a very small fee for extra videographer time, and my hourly rate for the prep time and the extra hour of focus groups. This will save you a significant amount in both time and money. It is meant for smaller issues, such as:

  • Testing exhibits
  • Testing case issues very early on to get some opinions which can guide discovery
  • Testing your voir dire
  • Testing case-specific issues that are not included in the 8 group topics

Does it matter that these are Denver-based jurors?

Yes. It always matters from where you recruit. You ideally want to test your case issues on jurors in your venue. That being said, feedback is still feedback. Is this going to give you a full picture of issues for your case or your venue? No. But it is similar to going to a mall and asking people their opinions. It’s helpful to get any opinion. But if your case is not set in Denver county, you do not want to rely only on the feedback from these groups. You will want to follow up in your own venue or at the very least understand that this is just SOME information, not full information. That said, the more jurors you can watch deliberating about any topic, the better your skillset as an attorney. This is an inexpensive way (likely a couple hundred dollars per topic!) to hear juror feedback.

If you think you may be interested or have questions, contact me quickly as spots will be limited.  

303-653-2233

email: Trialstrategist@gmail.com

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