Tag Archives: coronavirus

Research Shows COVID-Related Opinion Shifts in Nationwide Jury Pools

By Jill D. Schmid

For the past couple of years, we’ve been conducting national surveys on a variety of subjects in order to find out what kinds of widely held beliefs jurors bring into the courtroom. This data has helped inform many litigation strategies, witness preparation efforts, and jury de-selection strategies. Recently, we put all the questions together, added COVID specific questions, and conducted our largest nationwide survey yet.  All of the data was collected in May 2020. The data not only tells us about how the jury pool will likely be different in the foreseeable future due to the fact that approximately 45% of the population responded that they would ignore a jury summons because of health/safety concerns, but it also shows us how attitudes have shifted as a result of the pandemic.  Here are just a few areas where we saw some swings. Continue reading

Above the Law Interview with Sound Jury Consulting

Juries Are About To Get A Lot More Corporate-Friendly Thanks To COVID

By Thomas M. O’Toole, Ph.D.

This week, I had the privilege of being interviewed by Above the Law about the research we have been conducting on how the pandemic impacts the jury pool and jury decision-making in general. Our findings have significant implications for trial scheduling and strategy development, making this episode well worth the listen. However, this only scratches the surface on the data that we have collected. We hope to publish more and more findings as we work through the data analysis in the coming weeks.

Success! One of the First In-Person Mock Trials in the Age of COVID

Mock jurors sit at least six feet apart with masks and other health and safety measures in place.

By Jill D. Schmid, Ph.D.

It was awesome to get back to conducting in-person mock trial research this past weekend!  While things looked a bit different, it still checked off all the boxes for a successful project and, as always, we gained some incredibly important insights that will help us prepare for trial. Part of the reason this project was so important is because so many attorneys are wondering if mock trial research is even possible in the coming months. The answer is a resounding yes and, most important, there are a variety of ways to conduct the research while protecting the health and safety of everyone involved. This is important because, while so many in our industry were quick to put into the place the ability to conduct online mock trials, the reality is that online mock trials simply do not live up to the real thing and many attorneys understandably do not want to go that route. Here are some specifics about our project this past weekend to give you a very clear picture of how these can be fielded in the coming months: Continue reading

WARNING: Be Wary of Research About How the Pandemic Impacts Jury Decision-Making

By Thomas M. O’Toole, Ph.D.

It is the question on every litigator’s mind: What impact, if any, will the pandemic have on jury decision-making once trials resume? Will there be more goodwill towards businesses because of the economic toll the pandemic has taken? Will perceptions of a widening rich/poor gap perpetuate social inflation and nuclear verdicts? The questions go on and on and it is important to have answers to them. I expect that many organizations will purport to have those answers, but those answers might be misleading or flat-out wrong for one very important reason. Continue reading

The Important Connection between September 11, COVID-19, and Jury Decision-Making

By Thomas M. O’Toole, Ph.D.

As the country starts to re-open and jury trials resume, it is our job to research and understand what impact the pandemic and the stay-at-home orders that lasted over two months in some states will have on how jurors evaluate liability and damages going forward. There are many ways to approach this kind of research. For example, we just completed on of the largest surveys we have ever conducted in order to get specific answers to some of the questions we know attorneys and general counsel will have. We are currently in the process of analyzing all of that data.

It is also important to look back in history to other significant events for points of comparison. Everyone I talk to immediately draws comparisons to the 2008 recession, which makes a lot of sense given the economic parallels. When I have suggested looking at September 11, many brush off the suggestion, arguing that it is simply not comparable. However, delving behind assumptions, it becomes clear that there are some very important connections that are worth examination. Continue reading

How Does The COVID Pandemic Impact Mock Trials and Focus Groups?

By Thomas M. O’Toole, Ph.D.

We have officially entered the eighth week of the stay-at-home order in Washington State. Six days ago, our governor announced there would be no jury trials in the state until at least July. During this time, we have had at least a dozen cases across the country that were supposed to go to trial, but now await an uncertain future. In the next few months, we have another dozen cases that are supposed to go to trial, but those are uncertain, too, as courts will surely be dealing with enormous scheduling challenges. Fortunately, we have remained busy during this time while still benefiting from the opportunity to devote some time to reflect and explore new ways to approach our practice, not only out of concern for the COVID health issues, but also as part of our constant effort to improve the quality of our services. Among the many questions we have been asked, three, in particular, stand out. I will address each of these in this week’s blog. Continue reading

The Importance of Graphics as Courts Shift to Telephonic Hearings

By Thomas M. O’Toole, Ph.D.

How do you start a blog about what we are all going through right now? Most of us have never experienced anything like this before and making the adjustments that we are being asked to make is difficult at times. I was telling my kids earlier today that I am not sure everyone in our household is going to survive this pandemic and that has nothing to do with Coronavirus.

Different parts of the United States seem to be adjusting in different ways based on the number of cases in that particular area. In Seattle, we are ground zero for the United States, so we are seeing some more aggressive actions being taken. There are no trials or in-person hearings in our federal courts in the Western District, and our state courts in King County have gone to only a single trial in the courthouse at a time. Continue reading