Archive | Litigation Tips

Sorting out responses and non responses

A few months ago, Melissa and I were talking with one of our favorite clients, Buddy Schulz, when he commented that Melissa’s job during jury selection involved sorting out responses, and non responses, of potential jurors. He was noting that it is one thing to evaluate what someone says during jury selection (or perhaps with […]

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Jury selection involves, at least for me, interpreting and de-coding the things people say and do and the things they don’t say or do.  In fact, I spend just as much time observing the nuances of people’s behavior as I do in listening to the words they say.  When a potential juror is being questioned […]

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No One Has Ever Said They Wish Their Jury Research Had Been Later

In almost 30 years of owning and operating Magnus Research Consultants, David and I have been fortunate to have few complaints from clients. When there have been complaints, they have been of the following type: (1) “Your report is too long and comprehensive; it took too long for me to read”; (2) ”The charts summarizing […]

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This topic is salient because I had the discussion again recently, “What is your lead time for conducting research? My client wants to put it off as long as possible, because maybe they can settle…”  I patiently explained that the ramp up period, once we’ve provided a proposal, agreed on the research design, gotten approval […]

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PowerPoint Exhibits: Good-Bad-Ugly

I had an interesting conversation today with a client who was preparing a PowerPoint presentation for an upcoming mock trial. As we discussed his plan, he mentioned that he was planning to use 20 slides for a 10 minute presentation. I tactfully suggested that 1 slide every 30 seconds is too many. This led to […]

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Death by Powerpoint.  That’s what I call the majority of Powerpoint and other, similar, electronic presentations.  I have witnessed countless attorneys “kill” their audience with electronic presentations that contain words, then more words, then even more words.  These well meaning attorneys, in their quest to educate the jury about their case, put everything they can […]

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Putting Technology to Use

I was prompted to write this, and the prior post, because of Magnus’ recent move. The move necessitated discarding many tools which have been useful during our careers in trial consulting. When we started Magnus in late 1993, Melissa began to receive invitations to speak to groups of lawyers, insurance adjusters, and law school students. […]

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Thanks, in large part, to David, Magnus has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to using the most up to date technology.  I have been making presentations to large audiences for my entire career.  In the old days, when I was Director of Marketing Research at a large urban hospital, an A/V […]

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Show Don’t Tell

Trial exhibits are a big part of all properly conducted litigation. Most lawyers learned long ago that showing, and not just telling, is important. Some lawyers are more effective than others with this but most of them seem not to think visually. Once again, it’s Rush to the rescue. The first track on their 1989 […]

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Remember when we, as children, were subjected to “show and tell” by well meaning teachers?  I had little use for these trivial displays, finding most of my classmates’ showing and telling dreadfully boring.  However, this being said, the “show and tell” experiences from many people’s childhood illustrates the fundamental concept that a visual representation of […]

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Ghost Notes

I’ve been thinking recently about how one ever demonstrates that nothing happened because something did happen. Specifically, with regard to the protests over police shootings, police abuse, etc., how does one demonstrate that new policies make a difference? The difference is noticed only when nothing happens. Undoubtedly, most police officer shootings happen because the officer […]

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David’s reference to ghost notes is quite impressive!  Ghost notes are important to me, as a bass player.  They are place holders, serving to keep the rhythm while not making a discernable musical sound.  On the thick strings of a bass guitar, ghost notes sound like a mini cymbal, leading the way to the playing […]

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Hurricanes and Jury Selections

Recently, residents of Florida were threatened by another hurricane. In Florida, hurricanes are as much a part of our existence as that famous mouse in Orlando. Sooner or later, we Floridians will have to stop what we are doing and prepare, whether we like it or not, whether we have something better to do, or […]

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I’m writing this following another hurricane non-event.  A near miss – really near, less than 100 miles.  We did get some wind and rain, but we were ready.  We spent a full day preparing, a “wasted” Saturday effort as it turns out, and a full day resetting everything, a “wasted” Sunday.  I can only say […]

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Nuclear Verdicts: Part 2

Face it, some trials are bad, there is liability, there are real damages. Evaluating those honestly and without bias is what we, as trial consultants, help our clients accomplish. And, that said, the other issue in mock jury research when we work for the defense is that the plaintiff’s argument, when presented during the mock […]

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Over the years, I have heard some interesting remarks from defense attorneys and insurance adjusters following their observations of mock juries deliberating on their case.  One client, who is a defense attorney but who was, for reasons unknown to me, hired to represent numerous plaintiffs in a billion dollar class action case, told me that […]

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Nuclear Verdicts: Part 1

Boom – the verdict is in and it is explosive, shocking everyone involved. These verdicts are referred to “nuclear verdicts,” with the implication that they are both large and unreasonable. I read about this phenomenon regularly. It is a trend that frightens one side of the “v.” – the defense side, and emboldens the other […]

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When David and I founded Magnus in 1993, we used a slogan in our marketing materials, “Reducing Uncertainty.”  We know, based on our experience in conducting mock trials, focus groups, and attitude surveys, that our research results provide our clients with information about which they would have never known without our help.  Knowing this information […]

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Excuses versus Legitimate Reasons for Jury Duty Dismissal

This is the third, and final, post about my recent experience with jury duty in Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, Florida. As readers of David’s and my blog know, I have spent much of my career as a jury/trial consultant assisting attorneys selecting hundreds of juries. In addition, I have conducted numerous scientific studies of jury […]

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Not only have Melissa and I heard the question, “How do I get off of jury duty?” too many times to count, but Melissa hears the excuses on a regular basis.  And, I’ve taken random calls, from strangers, asking how to “get off” jury duty on several occasions.  Melissa reports to me that some judges […]

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