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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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New Monthly Flat Fee Consulting Service! First Come, First Serve

As my consulting practice evolves, I’m finding that a good deal of my time is spent on the “smaller” tasks – which is wonderful considering that my goal is to bring some level of consulting to every size case. While most attorneys I work with don’t have the budget for focus groups, they often call asking for a couple hours of my time to talk through a case and strategize, sometimes as early as case intake and as late as a couple days before trial (obviously, the earlier I’m contacted, the more helpful I can be as I’ve been known to completely change the direction of a case and at some point it’s simply too late to implement).

During a case analysis, various issues related to the case may be discussed. Generally the conversation takes on a life of its own but feedback often spills into areas such as suggestions for opening or closing, jury selection questions, areas where jurors are likely to have problems, how to fill in gaps in evidence, what themes to focus on, how to articulate damages, whether to have a client present at court, order of witnesses, which issues to bring up early, formulation of Rules, and many other such topics.

I also get asked to edit opening statements which takes anywhere from a couple hours to 10 hours of my time going back and forth with the attorney to hone in on the details that make such a huge difference.

Because of the outcry for these services, I have started offering a new service package on a first serve basis. I have a couple of local clients but am now opening up the offer to anyone else nation-wide who would like to partake. I will only take on a couple more firms or individuals for this offer.

I have always argued that consulting should not be only for high end clients, but should be of benefit to every size case and even for mediation preparation.  If attorneys had a better idea of how jurors are likely to react to their case, settlement offers would be more advantageous depending on what hidden dangers or benefits were discovered early in the process.  This is one of my attempts to benefit all sized clientele.

WHAT IS THE PROPOSAL?

The proposal offers a base monthly fee for unlimited case strategy/case analysis and editing of opening statements. Note that this is not meant to be an on again, off again agreement for months when you feel you have a high volume of work. This is meant to be ongoing – for you to have me on hand in your back pocket on every case. Rates range from $1,250/month and up. There are different ways to structure the pricing – by firm or by individual – so contact me and we can discuss how to tailor this to meet your needs. Services beyond opening statements and case analysis are not included in this proposal.

 WHAT YOU GAIN:

  • Unlimited access to me for all your cases. No need to wonder if your small case has a budget to allow for a consultant – it will already be paid for.
  • No need to hesitate to pick up the phone or send an email with any quick or complicated question about the strategy of your case.
  • Assist in case intake to know the problems, or unique solutions needed, with your case before you accept it and questions that need to be answered before investing your time and resources.
  • Help with a critical part of trial, opening statement (to get jurors on your side early) will already be budgeted and paid for.
  • Get feedback before mediation so that you know what to argue and what a jury is likely to have problems with regarding your case. This can help you hone in on a reasonable settlement value.

WHAT OTHERS FOUND BENEFICIAL:

Attorneys have found that integrating these concepts early in cases, as part of mediation and in smaller cases has great benefit.   There is simply no reason why trial strategy should be limited only to large cases.  Here are some quotes about these services from attorneys I have worked with:

  • “I have been doing these trials for more than forty years and I can’t tell you the number of times Jessica has unlocked the powerful secrets in one of my cases…She quickly gets beyond the legalese and gives you the themes needed to catch the jury’s attention.”   Jim Gilbert
  • “I just want to strongly urge/suggest that if you are headed to trial, spend the money – even an hour or two, on Jessica to go over some aspect of the case…It’s going to lead you down a path or provide you with some insight, viewpoint or strategy that you never considered because you can’t see the forest through the trees. It will be worth every penny. As a sole practitioner, I can’t afford to focus group every case, but I certainly intend to use Jessica for even the middle cases and consult with her for a few hours on the smaller value cases…If you use any of Reptile, Rules of the Road, or David Ball in your case, you NEED to at least get on the telephone with her even if you initially don’t have an idea of why or how it will help. It will help your case and translate into real dollars that will be far, far in excess of what she will cost.” Todd Travis
  • “Jessica helped craft my voir dire and opening statement. If I can take one positive from this case, it was that the jury reported being convinced by the end of my opening statement that the Defendant was negligent and focused on damages from the beginning…I made a promise to get her involved sooner on the next case.”  Andrew Newcomb
  • “It was extremely beneficial to be able to talk to Jessica about framing the damages argument in a case where the non-economic damages were the most difficult aspect to enunciate. I found her thoughts on the subject to be cogent and outside the box and I used much of her input in trial.” David Webster

This is a great way to bring in a consultant on any sized case. Because you will have already paid for my time on a monthly basis, you do not need to consider whether any one case has the budget for some consulting help – you will have the help in place for all cases. Please call with any questions or issues you’d like to discuss, including ways to individualize this to your firm’s needs.

 

 

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My Experience as a Juror

A few weeks ago, I received a summons for jury duty. Unlike most potential jurors, I was very excited (for obvious reasons). I knew my chances of being picked were slim to none but depending on the case and how many more risky jurors the attorneys had to eliminate, I thought I had something to hope for.

Tuesday night, I called in praying the automated recording wouldn’t immediately dismiss me. I was told to call back the next day after 10:30am to see if they were going to need my round of jurors to show up at 1:00pm. I felt on edge all night. I was glad to not have been dismissed but left anxious they would dismiss me by phone the next morning. I’m pretty sure at this point, my jury experience was the exact opposite of 98% of jurors. At 11:00am, I learned they were calling us all in. At this point, I began to wonder if this was some high-profile case since it was a Wednesday instead of Monday and they were seeming to need tons of jurors. I figured I would be willing to sit for a 2 week trial but beyond that it would affect my business too much. (This all assuming they would take me, of course!).

The moment I arrived at the courthouse I tried to observe my feelings and surroundings so I would have a better understanding of what jurors feel. These observations are helpful in guiding attorneys on what to say during the introductory phase of jury selection in acknowledging what jurors are dealing with and empathizing with them.

My first thought upon arriving in the parking lot was “my God these spaces are small. If my car gets dinged while doing jury service, I will be one unhappy camper…or juror.”  I walked through security and into the jury room where there were hundreds of hard seats with jurors sitting and reading or watching television. I was slightly heartened by them providing television to entertain and not just re-running the jury service video.

By 1:15, a judge entered and spoke to us about the importance of jury service. I thought she did a very nice job in explaining how no one wants to be here but thanking everyone for showing up and explaining how jurors have more power than anyone in the country when they sit on a trial. This fits nicely with Carl Bettinger’s Hero-Centric story structure. I hoped jurors believed it when she said it but figure many probably thought “yeah yeah, when can I go home?” After the judge spoke, they played the jury service video. Most of it was boring and I had a hard time concentrating as they explained basics such as who each party is in the courtroom. They also had past jurors talking about their experiences, which I thought was a nice touch as they all acknowledged not wanting to serve but finding the process intriguing and worthwhile.

We were told there were two criminal trials going today, each only two days in length. I assume many jurors had a sigh of relief at this news. Personally, I was let down since I would love to sit on a bit longer trial to get the real effect – 4 days or a week, maybe.

Ten minutes later, we were split in two and my group was led to the courtroom. I was impressed at the speed of the process. I anticipated I would be sitting for hours in the main jury room before being assigned to a case and was pleased it went so fast. Granted, I wasn’t called in until 1:00, so maybe my experience is skewed. As we walked in and sat in the pews, I looked around to see if I recognized any of the attorneys or the judge. Thankfully, no recognition.

The judge talked for what seemed quite a long time about the jury process. Some of what he said was great, such as harping again on the importance of jurors, explaining why the parties all stand when we enter and leave the courtroom, and telling us we were more powerful than even him, the judge. In my mind, I was seeing a setup for Bettinger’s hero story developing – assuming the attorneys would run with it – and for Ball and Keenan’s Reptile if the attorneys could explain how that power allows jurors to keep the community safe. Some of what he said was drawn out – explaining the order of the trial, some basic laws, etc. If I was losing interest, I can only imagine what other jurors were feeling.

Finally, they began calling names. My fingers were crossed, and as each name was read, I could feel the relief of the jurors surrounding me that they weren’t called at the same time as I hid my disappointment. The attorneys were given 15 minutes for voir dire, which I think is terrible but unfortunately not uncommon. The attorneys did a great job in being like-able although I was highly confused by the DA’s questioning which seemed to single out cause strikes for the defense. He was young, so maybe he wasn’t exactly sure of what he was doing. They both focused mostly on burden of proof and the main issue in the case (that the defendant ran from the cop and whether his running made him guilty regardless of any other information). There were a few cause challenges and each time I hoped my number would get called while everyone around me hoped theirs wouldn’t. In the end, no such luck. On the way out, there were comments like “I’d like to know what happens to that guy…but I’d rather read about it.” I was disappointed, but glad that I at least got to experiences some part of the jury system. Any hands-on experience is helpful in relating to jurors. Fingers crossed for next year!

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What to Consider in Ordering Your Witnesses

Trial is approaching and you have a long list of witnesses to organize.  How do you know who goes first, second, third, and last?  Ordering witnesses can feel like solving a rubik’s cube – one witness falls into place and it knocks three others out of order.  Not to mention that trial is unpredictable so you need to leave room for some flexibility.  Because there are so many moving parts to a trial and witness schedules, every case is different, but here are some factors to consider in ordering your witnesses:

  1. Primacy and Recency. Primacy states that what is presented first is remembered best.  Recency states that whatever is presented last is remembered best.  The idea is to start and end strong.  These are general psychological principles that interacts with many other principles so it’s not always so simple, but they something to consider.  Start and end your trial with effective, powerful witnesses.  To a smaller extent, try to start each day with a strong witness or slip one in right before a weekend break so it will be the last thing jurors hear before the leave to contemplate the case.
  2. Content.  Your first witness should be able to set the stage for jurors and give them a big picture of what happened.  The trial is a story and you need to start off solid by having someone who can get jurors to understand the overall chronological progression of things.  The first witness should also be virtually infalliable.  You don’t want to start your trial on a weak note.
  3. Personality of Witness.  Jurors get bored.  Try to space out witnesses who will be talking in a similar tone.  If you put one monotone witness back to back with another, your jurors may be asleep.  Try to have witnesses who are more interactive and who will be standing up to demonstrate something break up the monotony.
  4. Time of Day.  Most jurors are more alert in the morning.  After lunch, blood sugar levels peak and then drop and they get mentally tired.  Even in focus groups, I always notice that my afternoon groups are much more dreary and slow moving than my afternoon groups.  Try not to have a strong witness go on right after lunch – in fact, it’s a good time to put on weak witnesses so they can be easily forgotten (or never heard in the first place).

Again, of course all of this can only be followed to a certain extent.  Professional witnesses have time constraints, out of town witnesses can only come on specific days, and the trial may move faster or slower than you anticipated, requiring you to move things around.  That said, keep these guidelines in mind.  The closer you can stick to them, the more effective you will be.

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How to Use “Herd Mentality” to Your Advantage

As advanced as humans are, we are still primitively just mammals belonging to a herd.  Animals and people stay in herds because it provides safety.  If one member finds danger, the rest of the herd is alerted.  Think about being out in the African desert completely alone.  Now picture having a group of people there with you.  I would suspect your stomach felt very different imaging the two scenarios. 

Jurors are no different.  In mock trials and focus groups, I ask jurors what other information they think would be helpful.  There is often one juror who wants to know what other jurors in similar cases decided – how much money did they give?  The want to know the precedent.  Why?  Because they want to follow the herd. 

You can use this mentality to your advantage in several ways.  Some of those methods are taught in “Reptile” seminars with David Ball and Don Keenan and I would suggest attending to get more plaintiff-specific methods.  Here, I want to mention some basics. 

1. When talking to experts or witnesses, use the word “us” instead of “the jury.”  For example, “Dr. X, can you explain to US how the blood vessels became clotted?”  This puts you in the same boat as the jury and unifies the jury as one group.

2. Get jurors to see their own commonalities.  You can start to unify jurors as a group early on in voir dire.  Explain how most people who get jury summons don’t want to come but they all have something in common – they all showed up.

3.  Frame questions for your experts in a manner that hints at what others may think.  For example, ask experts, “so, most agree…?”  This hints to jurors that others think one way and to be part of the herd, they better follow.

4. In closing, tell jurors “I wish I could tell you what other jurors in cases like this do, but I’m not allowed to.”  This insinuates that what you say is in line with what other juries say or do.  Greg Cusimano is very good at this method so I suggest reading up on his works as well.

To finish it off, I’m posting  a video purely for entertainment purposes but it certainly demonstrates herd mentality:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYTBOhicf4g&feature=player_embedded

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Scoring Jurors: The Do’s and Don’t’s

In light of Ken Broda-Bahm’s newest blog post regarding the proper use of statistics in mock trials (http://www.persuasivelitigator.com/2012/01/dont-be-entranced-by-statistical-claims-from-mock-trial-research.html) as well as a rising need for faster jury selection, I thought I would touch briefly on a related topic of whether to score jurors during voir dire and how that scoring can either hurt or help you.

There are a few models of scoring methods being passed around the community and I often get the question, are they effective?  The answer is yes and no.  Firstly, let’s talk about what these methods entail.  If you are able to get a jury questionnaire, you can score the answers on a scale of, say, 1-5 regarding how positive or negative the statement is for your side.  Then add up all the scores and you have an overall score for that juror.  This score can be altered if you have enough time to ask the juror additional questions during voir dire.  If you are unable to get a jury questionnaire, then you can simply score the juror’s answers on the spot as they speak.

There are many positives to this approach.  With such limited voir dire time, it’s almost impossible to do a great job at jury selection.  There simply is not enough time to talk to everyone.  Scoring gives you a quick overall idea of where the jurors stand and may give you an idea of which jurors are the most likely to be harmful to your case so that you can focus your time in questioning them.  Secondly, presenting this method to a judge may, ironically, end up giving you an argument for more voir dire time as well as allowing a jury questionnaire!  Stress to the judge that if you are able to get out a jury questionnaire, you can score the answers ahead of time which will allow you to conduct a much more streamlined voir dire process as you can bypass many repetitive questions and get to the jurors you really need to talk to.  Once you get to trial and the judge is asking how much time you need for voir dire, ask that he/she allow you to continue as long as you are asking useful questions and not promoting your case but that the moment you slip into advocacy, he/she can cut you off.  Only suggest this if you are skilled enough to conduct voir dire solely for the purpose of gathering information.  This will allow you to have a jury questionnaire as well as time with the jurors.

My caution with using scoring techniques is that scores do not tell the whole story.  A stealth juror may say one thing on paper and be thinking something completely different.  You may think you don’t need to question that juror and use your time on other jurors with red flags whereas if you were to take some time to talk to the stealth juror, you may notice differences in his/her body language when asking different questions which would indicate untruthfulness.  Further, anything on paper can be taken differently than if you hear a juror’s tone of voice and observe their body language as they say the same statement.  So, my overall suggestion is to take everything in stride.  Do not use scoring as your main voir dire method.  Use it to argue for the use of jury questionnaires and take the scores as one piece of information amongst many which will guide you in the jury selection process. 

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Are You Stealing Emotions Away from Jurors?

With the holidays upon us and families gathering, I thought I would post on something that relates to both normal life and relations with family or friends as well as to the courtroom.  Afterall, what is a family gathering without some turmoil!

In our normal lives, we understand the concept of allowing people to feel their own emotions.  When raising kids, you may have the painful realization that the more angry you get about the rebel your daughter is dating, the more she will cling to him.  When fighting with a spouse, you may realize when everything calms down that you are actually more effective at getting your way when you do not scream and yell.  The adage “you get more bees with honey than with vinegar” holds true, but can often be easier said than done.  If you are angry toward another person, that person doesn’t have to focus on their own anger anymore because you are occupying that space.  Instead they focus their emotional energy on being resentful of you or simply continuing the destructive behavior because they are blind to the consequences. 

These life relationship lessons are transferable to the courtroom.  If you get angry, jurors feel less need to do so themselves.  They unconsciously figure that anger is checked off the list.  If you yell at a witness who is lying, a justice has been served.  The scales are balanced and they didn’t have to do anything for it.  If you get angry toward the opposing party in your case, you take that emotion away from the jurors.  They are then left with emotionless facts.  It may seem counter-intuitive as people instinctively feel that to get others roused up, they need to show the same emotion.  The opposite is true.  Show jurors the facts that lead them to be angry, but remain calm.  This makes them feel that there is still an injustice or imbalance that they need to rectify.  By showing them facts and allowing them to come to emotional conclusions on their own, you leave them free to build up anger and take it out on the opposing side. 

There are some exceptions to this, but very few.  When in doubt, stay calm.

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