Following the recent Bull theme yet again, anyone who has watched the first 2 episodes has observed Dr. Bull conducting a “Mirror Jury.” So, before you ask, a “Mirror Jury” or something by another similar name is real. The most commonly used term for this service provided by trial consultants is “Shadow Jury®.” Anyone notice the trademark symbol? Though the term Shadow Jury® has common usage, it was trademarked many years ago by Litigation Sciences and its founder. When we started Magnus, we coined the term “Silhouette Jury Panel” for this service. “Mirror Jury” works just as well. Essentially, this service boils down to recruiting participants who match the general traits of actual trial jurors as closely as is reasonably possible and having them observe the actual trial on a real time basis. The process is intense, challenging to manage, and, to be honest, expensive. But, it is real. The reality is that it is not as precise as the “Mirror Jury” conducted by Hollywood and Dr. Bull. However, even though it has some limitations, it can be very instructive to the trial attorneys who sometimes lose their focus of the big picture when bogged down in the details of their case and of the law. So, a Hollywood “Mirror Jury” doesn’t mirror reality, but this real practice has now been brought to light more than ever before by a popular new TV show.
I must admit that the new TV show about jury consultants is a highly entertaining, fanciful, drama. (In my opinion, it does not come close to the entertainment value of my long time favorite show, “The Simpsons,” however.) Because the term, “Shadow Jury®” was a registered trademark formerly owned by Litigation Sciences (my former employer), and the new TV drama is purportedly based on the life of a different jury consultant, the show’s writers use the term “Mirror Jury.” Out of the same desire to have a unique name for this service, Magnus has always called it “Silhouette Jury®.” Whatever it is called, the process of recruiting surrogate jurors who closely approximate the characteristics of actual jurors is nothing new. Once the jurors’ identities are known and voir dire has been completed, it has always been possible to hire, as temporary workers, people who attend the trial, hear and see the same evidence as the actual jury, and provide real time feedback to the attorneys about the progress of the trial. It is a time consuming and expensive process, however, attorneys with large cases are well advised to use this valuable resource. Once again, while the new TV show is raising awareness of all the resources available to attorneys (particularly those with deep pocketed clients who are willing to pay the costs associated with doing everything possible to win their case), every successful trial lawyer has known about jurors in the form of shadows, silhouettes, and mirrors for a very long time.