Jury trials can be difficult to prepare for. A trial by peers helps ensure that the local community is accurately represented, and that the state’s judicial power is properly checked, but assigning this responsibility to ordinary citizens introduces some dilemmas for litigators. Jurors are not legal experts; they may not fully grasp the themes of your case or understand some of the complexities of the arguments you are delivering. It is your attorney's responsibility to ensure that cases are presented effectively, providing the jury with information that is both persuasive and comprehensible.

Mock jury trials are a way to test and prepare your legal arguments before going to court. They give you the opportunity to identify possible hurdles, explore the effectiveness of your positioning, and gather data on potential juror reactions and mindsets.These preemptive steps give you a clearer view of what your case is worth, helping guide settlement decisions and estimates on liability and damages.

10 Effective Strategies for Mock Jury Trials

Testing the effectiveness of your tactics in a simulated courtroom setting pulls back the curtain on the psyche of a typical juror. There is a lot of behind-the-scenes effort that goes into creating a working mock jury trial. To achieve the best results, law firms increasingly choose to employ professional services to assist with this venture.

If you choose to go the independent route in preparing your mock jury trial, this will require careful planning and resourcefulness. There may be more at stake here than is readily apparent. A bad mock jury trial can lead to incorrect lessons learned, negatively impacting the development of your strategy.

To help you get the most value out of this complex project, we have isolated several tips and considerations to keep in mind:

1. Clearly Define Your Goals

Firmly established objectives will give you greater insight into how to structure the exercise. Consider what your most vital unanswered questions are. Whether you want to test the clarity and viability of your arguments, or see how a testimony or presentation will resonate with jurors, your first step is to define the purpose of the trial in clear terms.

2. Assemble a Diverse Support Team

Recruit people with diverse perspectives to participate in the planning and evaluating of your mock jury trial. Having representatives on your team from various legal backgrounds, as well as people who work outside of the legal profession, will give you more unique insights into your strategy, allowing you to identify potential strengths and weaknesses.

3. Create a Trial Outline

The more closely the mock jury trial can mirror the structure of the real trial, the more effective it will be. Draft a detailed outline of what the trial will look like, including opening statements, presentation of evidence, witness testimony, cross-examinations, closing arguments, and jury deliberation. By remaining true to format, you will be ensuring that the mock jurors’ participation will accurately represent the experience of the real jury.

4. Be Selective About Your Jurors

To accurately replicate the upcoming trial, your mock jury needs to exhibit the demographic range that you expect to encounter in the real jury. Study the population of the city or local area that the case will be tried in, and source your mock jury from that population pool. Avoid the urge to “stack the deck” with jurors whom you believe may be more favorable to your side, as doing so can hamper your ability to uncover insights regarding how your strategy will affect an unbiased jury.

5. Do Not Over-Instruct the Jury

Provide the mock jurors with enough information to understand their role and the specifics of the case, but avoid overly-detailed instructions. The goal of a mock jury trial is to simulate a real jury's understanding and decision-making process as closely as possible. Giving the jurors too much information upfront, before they have had the opportunity to evaluate the opposing arguments, can lead to biases and preconceived notions.

6. Provide a Strong Counter Argument

Unless you choose to work directly with the opposing party, you may find yourself having to field the opposing arguments using members of your own team. Do not subvert the purpose of your mock trial by underplaying the strength of the opposition’s case. Ensure that your team understands the case well enough to offer a strong and credible counterargument. If you can correctly anticipate and present the other party’s best arguments, you will have a more accurate simulation of how your strategy will hold up against them.

7. Prioritize Witness Testimony

Witnesses have an incalculable impact on juries, and if your real jury gets to see and hear witnesses, your mock jury should also. While it is impossible to subpoena witnesses for a mock trial, you can have your team present the essential components of witnesses’ deposition testimonies, so you can evaluate how the jury might respond. If there is a witness in a case that is likely to be called upon, but they have not taken part in a deposition, it is best to wait until they do. If they will not be taking part in a deposition before the trial, it is still best to make your most educated prediction as to what they will say and make that known to your mock jury.

8. Observe Jury Deliberations Impartially

A major benefit of mock jury trials is that they allow you access to the jury’s deliberations. You can see for yourself what aspects of your case resonate with the mock jurors, what weaknesses may be present in your arguments, and what direction a real jury might lean when faced with a similar situation. Just remember that your physical presence during those deliberations can have an unwanted influence on the outcome. Remove yourself from the equation; use recording technology or separate viewing rooms to give your jurors a private setting in which to deliberate.

9. Ask for Feedback from Participants

Every individual involved in the mock jury trial is a potential resource for improving your approach. Once the session is complete, reach out to team members and mock jurors to solicit feedback. Their impressions, questions, criticisms, and suggestions can be invaluable. If you are conducting your mock jury trial through a firm, policies vary on if speaking directly to trial participants is allowed. If collecting direct feedback is important to you, it is best to establish this with the firm ahead of time.

10. Document Your Learnings and Revise Your Strategy

Finally, thoroughly document the outcomes of your mock jury trial and the participant feedback you have received. Use this information to refine your case strategy, address any weaknesses, and strengthen your presentation for the actual trial.

Mock Jury Trials with NAEGELI Deposition & Trial

When conducted realistically and with an eye towards self-evaluation, mock jury trials have the potential to be more than just a practice run. The results of your mock trial should be closely evaluated and discussed amongst your team, providing a final review that identifies critical weaknesses in your case and helps you gain a more accurate picture of what will come.

To ensure that your mock jury trial lives up to its potential, NAEGELI Deposition & Trial is a service you can trust. With over 40 years of experience, NAEGELI Deposition & Trial knows what it takes to create an effective mock jury trial. Our team of legal professionals can help you at every stage of case development, employing focus groups, and simulating trial experiences, optimizing your strategy to attain the most positive outcome. For mock jury trial services, as well as trial presentation, court reporting, legal transcription, remote depositions, videography, and more, contact NAEGELI Deposition & Trial today.