Our approach to trial monitoring is for a consultant to attend the trial and provide focused feedback to the trial team on opening statements and the examination of key witnesses. In addition, we can place shadow juries in the courtroom to observe trial proceedings and provide daily feedback to the trial team and to in-house counsel. At the conclusion of each court day, the observer jurors are interviewed in order to understand their interpretations of the case and their reaction to key themes and pieces of evidence as the trial progresses.
The trial team typically receives a summary of the interviews which highlights strengths, weaknesses and areas of confusion, and includes a set of recommendations. This type of ongoing feedback enables the trial team to strengthen weak areas and clarify areas of misunderstanding. When conducting shadow jury research, we hold a focus group where we interview prospective shadow jurors in order to ensure that they are capable of providing quality feedback. From the focus group we select 3 to 6 shadow jurors, ideally after the jury has been empanelled but before openings, in order to ensure that the shadow jurors match the real jurors well. Our experience interviewing shadow jurors over the course of real trials also contributes greatly to our general understanding of juror reactions to case themes and argument.
We have experience conducting shadow jury research on a variety of different case types, including catastrophic injury, antitrust, intellectual property, product liability, and insurance coverage. Trials involving shadow juries typically last several weeks to several months. The feedback that the trial team receives from the shadow jury can be very helpful in making theme and strategy decisions, directing the examination of witnesses, illuminating areas of misunderstanding, and exposing weaknesses in the other side’s case. While shadow juries are generally better treated as sources of information and insight than verdict indicators, they can also be useful for informing settlement decisions.