Jury research is the study of how the demographics, political leanings and group decision-making processes of juries influence how they judge court cases. It is a strategy employed by lawyers in deciding how to present their sides of emotionally resonant cases, like murder trials. Bringing a case to a jury research consulting firm can also convince clients to settle rather than bring a case to court if it seems the jury would be biased against them.
The process of selecting and vetting jurors draws upon the basics of jury research. Jurors are supposed to be totally impartial and judge cases based on facts, not emotions. Attorneys may question potential jurors and can reject a certain number of jurors without giving a reason. An understanding of jury research can help attorneys guess whether a juror will be more sympathetic to the defense or the prosecution.
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The usefulness of jury research has spawned a legal consulting industry that works with lawyers to make their cases more palatable to juries. While jury research does not "win" cases, it can help attorneys see weak points in their arguments that may push the jury to favor the other side. It can also help attorneys frame their cases to win the sympathy of the jurors by employing just the right blend of theatrics.
Attorneys may work with jury research consultants to gauge how a jury will perceive their case. Such information is very valuable for clients bringing a highly emotional case to trial. Jury research can also help attorneys develop their argument along themes that will resonate with juries.
A case that fails to win the hearts of the jurors loses money and prestige for both the lawyer and the client. For this reason, attorneys dealing with a stubborn client and a case involving murder or discrimination may recommend extensive jury research before the trial begins. Enacting a full mock trial can predict how a trial will play out in the courtroom, even foreshadowing how much the jury might award in damages. Armed with this knowledge, the legal team can make more informed decisions about whether to negotiate a settlement or proceed with the trial.
Although juries are supposed to be neutral, emotions and predisposition can cloud a juror's judgment. Jury research is meant to predict how cases will affect jurors, causing them to favor one side over the other. Jury consultants can then warn attorneys of weak points in their cases and show how to leverage the predispositions of jurors.