Now that we’re slowly coming out of the pandemic with its restrictions, trials are resuming. With that, jurors are once again entering your world. Darn.
Trials would be so much easier if you didn’t have to deal with jurors. Jurors wander off mentally during your most critical testimony. They are distracted by the need to scratch an itch, or by a lawyer’s mannerisms. Jurors are irritated by an expert’s vocal tone, they disapprove of a witness’s attitude. Jurors misunderstand the law and all too often make it up as they go along. Jurors impose their own version of what’s right or wrong, ignoring to a distressing degree the jury instructions, regardless of the judge’s admonitions. Jurors deliberate as a group, which introduces the whole notion of group dynamics, complicating the matter further. And that’s but the tip of the juror iceberg . . .
But jurors must be dealt with, and more importantly, you must deal with how they come to the decisions they make. For the better you can determine or discern what impacts those decisions, the more likely you are to succeed at trial.
This is where intense, targeted use of the pre-trial focus group can be especially valuable. Instead of letting focus group “jurors” elect a foreperson and talk over each other to arrive at a consensual decision, have a facilitator ask probing questions of each and every juror, to analyze how each juror arrives at their various conclusions, as well as observe how group dynamics affect those conclusions.
Knowledge is power.