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Scientific Jury Selection (ABA Continuing Education Notes)

by merlin on December 16th, 2013
  • Sumo

These notes are solely meant as a supplement to the 20-page .pdf document that was included as program materials, which was really only a long commercial for a jury-selection tool.  HOWEVER – it certainly did an excellent job of conveying the necessity of scientific jury selection, and the methodology the Continuing Education webinar conveyed was something that I learned once, and am re-learning now in preparation for upcoming jury cases.

ABA Continuing Legal Education

Scientific Trial Preparation – Are You Ready?

December 16, 2013


  • Feedback problem (don’t receive it until verdict is in)
  • Media Feedback – largely an unreliable measure (they did not get the same info as was presented in the closed world of the trial); same thing GOING INTO the trial (cannot look at the strong and weak point identified by media, either, since analysis is not a legal analysis, which is what is needed in Court)

Daniel W. Dugan, Ph.D, President, Trial Science, Inc., Reno, NV

A.  Focus Groups

  • Really good at revealing biases different jurors might have
  • Typically 8-12 people, but really research shows that it should be at EIGHT to encourage discussion
  • Looking for the issues that they identify that flip them from being for one side to the other
  • “Corporatism” – a scale (high or low) that talks about how much a person trusts the “people in charge” in modern corporations
  • “Anomia” – how much (paranoia or pessimism)

Try to find out roughly the political position (conservatism = 1, liberal = 10)

–       Questions about attitudes regarding welfare, care of politicians for ordinary citizens, etc.; also questions that show agreement or disagreement with statements (this is smart; put this into your typical VOIR DIRE)

–       Judge’s position is that there must be a justification for asking these kinds of questions, but no objection means no problem

 B.  Mock Trial

  • Good because you can get written feedback during the course of the trial
  • Gave the example of evidence in a medical malpractice case that THEY thought was the “smoking gun”, but mock trial showed that they lost as soon as they showed the video
  • Showed some of the things that a Plaintiff is citing as a damage, and jurors are instead pointing out that it is something the PLAINTIFF OUGHT TO CONTROL FOR (behavior is unreasonable)
  • Witnesses:

–       Expertise

–       Knowledge

–       Objectivity

–       Trustworthiness

–       Informative

–       Clear

Going with a rating on a scale of 10 from mock trial jurors to determine the proper ORDER for the witnesses to appear


Electronic Presentation is very important (that is HOW THE WORLD IS today, and jurors generally get their information primarily through electronic media).


Useful for mediation!!!


What about cost?

–       It adds value, but is it worth it?  Sometimes, a 1% increase in possibility of victory makes the difference.

Temp agencies in local area can be used to provide a general mix according to approximate makeup desired of people (employment agency uses the SAME VARIABLES, generally, as those that make a person jury-eligible).

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