<img height="1" width="1" alt="" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=1482979731924517&amp;ev=PixelInitialized">

At A2L, we are either conducting or actively planning a mock trial 365 days a year. As you probably know, mock trials are a tool that is very often used by serious trial teams involved in large trials to help uncover the ideal strategy to win a case. In a typical mock trial that we conduct, over 40 jurors will be recruited in the trial venue through a rigorous screening process. We even incorporate expected voir dire questions into the process. Based on individual verdicts and backgrounds, mock jurors are carefully evaluated to create three or four panels of 10 to 12 mock jurors. “Clopenings,” combined argumentative opening/closing statements, are presented for both sides of the case, litigation graphics are used to support these statements, and videotaped witness testimony may be included as part of the presentation. Typically, real-time data collection methods using an Audience Response System (“ARS”) will be used, similar to the approve vs. disapprove line graphs shown on the news during election seasons. Deliberations are conducted. A focus discussion following deliberations is facilitated by our jury consulting and litigation consulting team members. All proceedings are typically observed through one-way mirrors or via closed-circuit TV, as shown in the included image. Watching the deliberations is shocking for most trial lawyers. Without the constraints of the law or internal consistency, jurors’ responses can seem inconsistent, irrational, inexplicable and thus, frightening and random. They are not. Jurors rarely understand the cases as much as hoped, and they follow predictable behavior patterns (see 10 Things Every Mock Jury Ever Has Said). While their rationale may not match the lawyers’, there is a rationale to those willing to understand it from the jurors’ perspective. Finally, data are collected from the jurors, the results from the deliberations are tallied, and an oral and written report is presented to the trial team. This report includes specific tactics, both rhetorical and visual, that should be used at trial. We have written and taught about best practices for mock trials extensively. Some of those articles and webinars include: The 5 Very Best Reasons to Conduct a Mock Trial 6 Good Reasons to Conduct a Mock Trial 6 Ways to Use a Mock Trial to Develop Your Opening Statement 5 Ways That a Mock Trial Informs and Shapes Voir Dire Questions 12 Astute Tips for Meaningful Mock Trials 11 Problems with Mock Trials and How to Avoid Them 7 Questions You Must Ask Your Mock Jury About Litigation Graphics 10 Things Every Mock Jury Ever Has Said How Early-Stage Focus Groups Can Help Your Trial Preparation Webinar: 12 Things Every Mock Juror Ever Has Said - Watch Anytime Together, these resources provide an excellent manual for conducting a mock trial for an upcoming case. However, they don’t deeply address a trial team behavior I’ve seen show up in just about every mock trial our firm has conducted: The lawyers try to win – and I don’t mean fairly.

Read More

Share:

by Ken Lopez Founder/CEO A2L Consulting Today, we are publishing our latest free book -- A Trial Lawyer's Guide to Jury Consulting and Mock Trials. This free 328-page book is based on the idea that even after some decades in which jury consulting has grown and established itself as a business, many lawyers still don’t necessarily understand what jury consultants do and how valuable they can be. Many lawyers probably still harbor the old idea that a jury consultant is just someone who sits next to a lawyer and uses a “gut feeling” based on a potential juror’s occupation, body language or appearance to ask the lawyer to exclude the juror or keep the juror. If that stereotype were ever true, it’s certainly not true today. We’re about as far now from the O.J. Simpson days 20 years ago as we are from the Perry Mason days. This book is dedicated to bridging whatever conceptual gap may remain between trial lawyers and jury consultants. It pulls together many of the lessons that jury consultants have learned, so that any lawyer who reads the book can get up to speed quickly and save herself a good deal of money and time. We have been dismayed at times at the disconnection between long-held myths held even by seasoned litigators and what the data show.  Excellent trial strategies are the product of balancing art and science, data and wisdom, confidence and humility.  Among the topics in this book are: 14 Places Your Colleagues Are Using Persuasive Graphics That Maybe You’re Not, Is Hiring a Jury Consultant Really Worth It?, Why Do I Need a Mock Trial If There Is No Real Voir Dire, 21 Ingenious Ways to Research Your Judge, 7 Videos About Body Language Our Litigation Consultants Recommend, 15 Things Everyone Should Know About Jury Selection and 6 Good Reasons to Conduct a Mock Trial. A good lawyer knows the law. A great lawyer knows the jury and how it works. Read this book and reflect on its contents to know more than most trial lawyers do. This book is based on hundreds of trials and years of data, not mere theory or presumption. We hope you enjoy it and share it. Please send us your feedback and let us know if you have any questions or comments, any time. If you have any questions about a case, a witness, a jury pool, a venue, strategic options or dilemmas, or think your case is unwinnable, we’re only a phone call/email away and would love to hear from you. 

Read More

Share:

by Laurie R. Kuslansky, Ph.D. Managing Director, Jury & Trial Consulting A2L Consulting Invariably, despite excellent presentations at mock trials, some observers serving as mock jurors fall asleep. The typical response by clients is to ask us to wake them up, which we often do, but with limited success, as they tend to fall back asleep. The myth, debunked time and again, is that these people aren’t taking it seriously, aren’t taking it in, aren’t paying attention, and will have nothing to contribute as feedback. In fact, we have found that this is almost always contradicted by what ensues. Contrary to what one observes with the naked eye, sleepers have heard more than you think, and certainly have taken in enough in their minds to reach a conclusion. They have fallen asleep because they are “done” and don’t feel as if they need or want more information. Perhaps they find the information boring, repetitive or superfluous, but nonetheless, once deliberations start, clients are amazed to hear what these people say and do. They speak up! They voice well-formed opinions supported by some facts. They don’t ramble and don’t stay quiet in the shadows as one might expect.

Read More

Share:

by Laurie R. Kuslansky, Ph.D. Managing Director, Jury & Trial Consulting A2L Consulting Ever been told you were too smart for your own good? I never thought it was possible. I might be too smart for someone else’s good, but not my own. When it comes to jurors and experts, it could be true. Two reasons are cognitive, decision-making biases that are of special interest because they can seriously impair your case. Both follow the lines of “Really? You don’t think like me?!” Specifically, these biases are: The “Curse of Knowledge Bias" in which well-informed people find it hard to think about problems from the perspective of others who are less informed, and The “False-Consensus Bias", whereby people tend to overestimate how much other people will share their beliefs or opinions. Assuming that their own values and beliefs are normal and typical, they hold the false belief that there will be a consensus between others’ opinions and their own. In fact, when they discover that others do not share the same expected opinion, this bias leads them to believe that there must be something wrong with those people who think differently. What Makes Very Smart Jurors a Risk? Individual jurors, who have abided by the court’s instruction not to discuss the case prior to deliberating, often enter deliberations believing that others see the case as they do. Learning that others see it differently initially comes as a surprise based on their false expectation.

Read More

Share:

by Laurie R. Kuslansky, Ph.D. Managing Director, Jury & Trial Consulting A2L Consulting Baby Boomers (yeah man, those who “grew up” in the ‘60s) raised kids to buck the system. No surprise there. They raised kids to think for themselves, to be more independent and not follow rules blindly, and to distrust institutions. The result? Millennials (born roughly between 1981-96) are the least religious generation yet. It isn’t that they started off very religious in the first place. They tended to start by being less religious than their parents, and then drop off from there. This trend applies equally to a distrust of other nonreligious organized institutions such as the labor market, government and marriage, as well as less confidence in the press, government and churches. The study shows, in part, that the biggest shift is the rise of those, heavily represented by Millennials, who claim they do not belong to any organized faith. This isn’t a wholesale rejection of all things spiritual, just of the traditional, institutional variety of beliefs and practices. How does this relate to litigation and jury psychology?

Read More

Share:

by Laurie R. Kuslansky, Ph.D. Managing Director, Jury & Trial Consulting A2L Consulting My second day serving jury duty in Manhattan was like being on an episode of Undercover Boss, quietly observing fellow prospective jurors in their native habitat, speaking little, but taking in a lot. It was especially cold outside and those dressed for success on Day 1 (mistakenly thinking they’d get cut loose early and return to work or life the same day), succumbed to the reality that we were there for at least another full day in the Jury Assembly room, so they dressed down, mostly donning casual clothes and sneakers. Gone were the business suits, uncomfortable dress shoes and the like. Note to counsel: If you want to spot business-clad types, better catch them on Day 1 before these lines get blurred on Day 2. Inquire how many days someone has been serving on jury duty, since changes occur after Day 1. Despite the good humor of the clerks, it was still quite tedious to sit for a whole day with little to do. Although there was free Wi-Fi, when 200 people use it at the same time, it goes at the speed of molasses, making the use of most applications futile. Only one panel of about 20 potential jurors was called into a courtroom. Another was called in the afternoon from another assembly room downstairs, where former Mayor Michael Bloomberg was also serving.

Read More

Share:

Laurie R. Kuslansky, Ph.D. Managing Director, Jury & Trial Consulting A2L Consulting Day 1 (feels like Day 10) at New York State Supreme Court I showed up early to get a bird’s eye view of the jury experience from a rare perspective: the juror’s. New York County jurors are summoned from Manhattan, Roosevelt Island, and one zip code in the Bronx. At nine a.m. sharp, the senior jury clerk opened the metal door and let in roughly 200 freshly minted prospective jurors, including me. On a frigid day, it was no surprise to hear a fair amount of coughing, so navigating to a disease-free seat was like skiing a slalom run. In addition to the jury summons, the courts now request another form asking anonymously for one’s demographics (gender, age, ethnicity) to help the court gauge who is showing up. The information is not available to the public – I asked. Some improvements (summoning jurors for only two to three days rather than three minimum; summoning jurors less frequently – only once each six years) have been implemented. Other “improvements” to the jury experience – such as providing work space, computers, lots of charging stations, etc. are, sadly, good on paper but a myth, not reality.

Read More

Share:

by Laurie R. Kuslansky, Ph.D. Managing Director, Jury & Trial Consulting A2L Consulting We often hear litigators bemoan how little they will learn during voir dire because the judge won’t let counsel ask any questions, won’t accept a jury questionnaire, and barely asks any questions beyond the court’s jury summons form. As a result, they assume that the entire exercise of picking the jury will be a shot in the dark. We beg to differ. There is a great deal of information – on the lines of the jury summons form and between them – for those who know how to look for it. Here is a guide to help get more mileage out of a jury summons. 1. What’s in a written name? Something as simple as a potential juror’s signature certifying their responses on the jury form can reveal a great deal, even to an untrained eye. Does the person include “Jr.”, “III,” their middle initial? Do they include a title, degree or other information (John Doe, M.A. vs. Dr. John Doe vs. John B. Doe)? If so, this suggests potential attention to detail and/or self-importance. See these famous signatures and notice which seem gregarious, withholding, disorganized, rigid, charming, flashy, disturbed, bold, immature, and other traits:

Read More

Share: