In every jury trial, the jury is the fact-finder. In personal injury cases, this means that the jury evaluates all the evidence presented at trial, considers the credibility of the witnesses, and, applying their common sense and life experiences, determines what the facts are. Then provided with the law by the judge in the form of jury instructions, the jury ultimately decides whether the defendant was negligent and therefore liable, and if so, the amount of damages to award the plaintiff to compensate for their injuries. The injured party, or the plaintiff, has the burden to provide enough evidence to persuade the jury that, more likely than not, the other party, the defendant, was negligent and caused the plaintiff’s injuries. All evidence should be presented with the acknowledgment that the jury is the true audience during the trial.
At Curcio Law, we do research on our juries before we appear in court in front of them. We want to know about our audience before we speak to them. We do a couple of things before a jury trial to ensure that we understand how best to present our evidence in the most persuasive way to the jury.
We Use Mock Juries
Mock juries are one tool we use to evaluate our clients’ cases and fine-tune our presentation of evidence. While we do not know who will make up our jury until the day of trial, we do know where our jurors will be coming from. When putting together mock juries, we try to get mock jurors from the same area where the trial is pending so we can feel confident that our mock jurors will have similar insights, reactions, and discussions as the jurors at trial.
On the day of the mock jury, we present the evidence to our mock jurors and then leave them to deliberate. While they are deliberating, we observe from a different room to learn what the jurors focus on and how they arrive at their verdict. Afterward, we ask the mock jurors questions regarding their deliberation and gain even more insight into what each juror found persuasive. As we prepare for trial, we utilize what we learned from the mock jury by focusing on the evidence that the mock jury found most important.
Depending on the facts of the case, we use mock juries for different purposes. One purpose is to evaluate the value of the case. If we are trying to assess the case’s value, we will first ask jurors to write down their individual valuation of the case and then allow them to deliberate to see what they decide as a group. This is very helpful in providing us with data points on different valuations. Also, this provides us with insight into how a jury will compromise on value to agree to a verdict unanimously.
Another use for mock juries is to help our presentation of evidence. If there is a factual issue (i.e., causation of injury, the necessity of medical treatment, etc.), we will sometimes present evidence in different ways and see which presentation was more persuasive to the mock jurors. If we are concerned about an argument that the defense will make at trial, we will also test those defense arguments so we can get ahead of the arguments at trial.
We Do Individual Juror Research
Another way we prepare for jury trials is through individual juror research. Depending on the Court, we can get a list of the jury pool for our trial a couple of days before the trial. Our team will then research each juror on the Internet so we have some background information regarding those jurors before the trial.
The purpose of this research is to be able to discover any potential biases our jurors may have. Discovering biases is essential because all parties have the right to a fair and impartial jury. Many people have negative connotations of the word biases, but a bias is not necessarily a bad thing. In reality, a bias is simply a leaning, like, or dislike that we may have on a particular subject. For example, a person may favor vanilla ice cream over chocolate ice cream, and if so, such a person would not be a fair and impartial judge of an ice cream flavor contest involving vanilla and chocolate.
Everyone is naturally biased in one way or another. The determining factor in whether a juror needs to be struck from the jury due to their bias comes down to their ability to set aside any relevant biases they may have and to be able to follow the law as instructed by the judge. For example, in dog bite cases, a juror that owns several dogs may naturally have some biases and may be more inclined to think that a dog owner should not be at fault for a dog bite. However, the law says otherwise, and finding out whether the biased juror will be able to follow the law is essential in obtaining an impartial jury.
The research done before trial about potential biases will be used during voir dire, or jury selection, when we have a chance to question and evaluate the jurors directly before deciding on the seven that will make up the best possible jury for our client.
"$2,000,000.00 Auto Pedestrian Hit by Car / Brain Injury"
"$2,000,000.00 Pedestrian Hit By Bus / Broken Foot, Surgery Complications & Partial Choroidal Detachment"
"$2,000,000.00 Wrongful Death Settlement"
"$1,900,000.00 Pedestrian Hit By Truck / Fractured Pelvis & Multiple Surgeries"
"$1,500,000.00 Auto Accident / Wrongful Death"
"$1,200,000.00 Auto Accident / Broken Neck, Punctured Lung"
"$847,500.00 Dangerous Dog Bite / Facial Injury, Scarring"
"$600,000.00 Tractor Trailer Crash / Neck Injury, requiring surgery"
"$595,000.00 (Jury Verdict) Auto Accident / Broken Foot"
"$546,905.00 Auto Accident / Neck injury, Herniated Disc"