After defining the issues of your case, Trial Science injects those issues into the “black box” of the focus group members’ minds. What emerges from those “black boxes” become important case themes. We then match demographic characteristics and attitudes to the focus group members’ biases on each issue, giving you the “keys” to the black box: which jurors tend to react in what way to your case?
Learn the human factors, attitudes, beliefs, ideals, perceptions, and opinions towards the issues in your case. Understand the style of the jurors’ thinking and the conclusions they may reach because of that style.
Focus groups are an essential component in our scientific approach to trial preparation. Focus groups reveal extremely useful information about how the specifics of your case will be interpreted by potential jurors. They reveal pre-existing opinions and biases held by certain demographic and attitude profiles. They can show how certain individuals or opinions might sway the rest of the group on a specific issue.
While it is common for many attorneys to rely on a common sense approach to evaluating the relationship between demographics and attitudes, experience has shown us that all too often reality goes in a completely opposite direction. For instance, in a recent case, a police officer was suing his department after being passed over for promotion. The case would use extensive testimony from his fellow officers. The department’s attorney was pleased to find out that two of the prospective jurors had relatives who worked in law enforcement.
“Common sense” would tell us that these two jurors would be on our side. However, the focus groups told us that those with family in law enforcement would discount the testimony of police officers, believing that officers would lie on the stand to support and protect a fellow officer. When further probed during voir dire, these two prospective jurors told us that same thing and the judge excused them for cause.
Focus group format:
Directed by a trained, unbiased facilitator, focus groups consist of eight to ten jury-eligible people from the trial venue. Before beginning the session, group members are asked to complete a questionnaire that has been designed to reveal their demographic characteristics, personal attitudes, and biases.
The focus group is similar to the jury panel at the beginning of voir dire. Members are unaware of case specifics, allowing you to zero in on people’s pre-existing attitudes before they’ve been affected by a presentation. Once the questionnaire has been completed, issues are presented to the group in an objective manner to avoid influencing the group response. The facilitator makes sure that all group members are involved in the discussion. All focus group sessions are digitally-recorded for further analysis.