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How and Why are Mock Juries and Focus Groups Used?


If you are considering taking your case to trial, wouldn’t it be great to do a “trial run,” that is, to run the facts and evidence in your case by a fake group of jurors from the general public, just to see what they think about it? And you could even ask them questions that you couldn’t ask your real jury, about what parts of the case were most and least persuasive?

The Use of Focus Groups

Well, it turns out that you can do just that. They’re called focus groups, or mock juries. And in certain kinds of trials, they can provide valuable insight to your attorneys about the strengths and weaknesses of your case, before you get into court and in front of the real jury.

Focus groups are members of the general public that hear a trial run of your case put on by your attorneys. Sometimes, another attorney will pretend that he or she is the other side.

At the end of the trial run, the jurors are asked questions about what information they found most credible, or questions about how certain witnesses’ testimony could be improved (including your own).

These focus groups can also give attorneys valuable insight into jury selection, as they can reveal what demographic juror reacts and responds best to the specific facts of your case.

Some Drawbacks

Despite the benefits, focus groups aren’t necessary or even useful in every kind of case.

They are usually only used in much larger cases, because focus groups can take time and expense to put together. Aside from getting the mock jurors together, the law firm has to actually try the case itself before the mock jury, which can be time consuming.

Because of the time involved, many attorneys have turned to outside companies that specialize in gathering mock jurors to hear a case. While that can save time, it does add expense, as these companies need to be paid.

The mock jurors are usually paid a nominal amount for their time as well, adding another expense.

And in the end, no two juries are exactly alike—and even if you got a jury in trial that was demographically identical to your mock jury, that doesn’t mean they would do and feel the same way as your mock jury did.

Earlier or Later?

Because of the time and expense, your attorneys may have to choose to do the focus group either early or later in the case. Earlier mock juries can help attorneys fashion discovery and get an idea of what themes work in the case, early on.

But mock juries later in the discovery process can better help attorneys fine tune presentation of evidence and witness performances, and give a more accurate representation of what the actual jury will do, given that the attorneys have gathered most of the evidence at that later stage.

Contact the Tampa personal injury lawyers at Barbas, Nunez, Sanders, Butler & Hovsepian and schedule a consultation today for help whether your injury case goes all the way to trial or not.


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