Post-Trial Research: Why It Matters
Do you have doubts about the result of a trial?
As advocates of your clients, your job is to represent their interests by knowing the ins and outs of their cases. You spend hours prepping and evaluating every piece of evidence and thoughts from the opposing side until the jury reveals their decision on the verdict.
But, even then, you may wonder if you truly did everything in your power to get your clients what they want. If this is the case, post-trial research can prove to be the necessary process you need to find out.
Read this guide on why post-trial research may benefit you and the best way to do it.
The Benefits of Post-trial Research
There are many reasons an attorney may conduct research after the conclusion of a trial. Whether advocating for a client, or personal educational training, the benefits of research through methods such as jury interviews can improve the chances of a greater outcome later on.
Here are some benefits to trial interviews.
Insight of Trial Strategies
As an attorney, you’ve more than likely practiced your opening and closing statement performance prior to the trial. So it’s not uncommon to want feedback on the impact it had.
You may seek interviews solely for educational purposes on your advocacy skills of relaying the points made and the delivery of the information. Were there any evidentiary problems or confusion with jargon? This is the perfect opportunity to ask.
You may also gain insight into the jury’s views on called witnesses. There are many case scenarios in which the defendant is acquitted on the grounds of doubt of the credibility of opposing witnesses.
Uncovering Jury Misconduct
After the return of a verdict, defending lawyers may want to interview some members of the jury to ensure their decisions were made without the influence of misconduct. A verdict made through misconduct infringes on the defendant’s rights to a fair trial.
If foul play is discovered, you can act on your client’s behalf to advocate an investigation into the matter and possibly impeach the verdict.
Overturning a Verdict
It can be extremely difficult to determine misconduct and overturn an entire trial. Sometimes misconduct may not be revealed until years later. But the chances are often higher when post-trial research is conducted in a relevant time frame after the trial.
The more interviews you do, the more proof you can have if circumstances of the verdict do not line up with one another. It’s a lengthy process but is worth the work if it means you and your client get the win you deserve.
How to Conduct Post-trial Research Interviews
The art of conducting interviews is an essential skill that all lawyers need to perform their job. However, there’s a certain etiquette to talking and interviewing post-trial jurors. Failure to follow important steps could result in serious implications of harassment and other infringements.
Here are important rules you’ll need to remember if trial consulting.
Set a Designated Place and Time
There is a time and place to conduct interviews with trial jurors, and it’s not when the juror is walking out of the courthouse, tired from a long day of evaluation.
It can be tempting to want to stop them for a quick conversation, but you’re likely to get rushed variations of information, and you won’t make the best impressions should you need to reach out at a later time.
Wait a few days to allow the juror to de-stress. A rested person is more likely to give clear concise information, plus it allows you time to prep and go over questions.
Use a Neutral Approach and Voice
Neutrality is your best tool when talking to the jurors, and they’ll be more inclined to converse. Keep the conversation professional, but let the conversation flow naturally. Create transparency in the outlined plan on what you want to talk about.
You should focus on specific points of the trial such as the testimonies, the procedures, and evidence, and let the jurors express their opinions. That way, you have the most natural recount of their point of view.
Use Open-Ended Questions
Your goal for the interviews is to determine a specific based agenda, so you’ll have to use direct, specific questioning. But you should also employ using open-ended questions, questions that have no simple yes or no answer, to get the best sense of how the juror felt about certain aspects of the case.
Some open-ended questions to use are:
- How did you reach the final verdict?
- Which piece of evidence did you feel was the most compelling?
- What stood out to you the most out of everything in the trial?
Funneling from open-ended to specific questions can create cohesion in the information, which makes it easier to write down or replay back at a later time.
Interview More Than 1 Juror
As stated previously, the more jurors you interview, the more data you can collect on the perception of the case. Each juror is going to have their own views.
Some may have a whole view recount, while others may have just focused on key aspects. They also may interpret pieces of evidence differently than their co-juror peers.
Use your questions to dive deeper into each person’s recounts. The more information you collect improves your report of the trial from beginning to the end. Should you ever need the report as evidence for another trial, you have documented proof that a high percentage of the jury recounted the trial a certain way.
Mock Trial Evaluation
Interviews are a great way to gain direct information and insight but are not always approved by the overseeing judge. If it’s not available, you have the choice to perform a mock trial.
Mock groups can assist in replaying every event of the trial for a better understanding of everything that occurred, while at the same time it helps discover instances of things that you or the opposing side could have done differently.
Better Research Means a Better Outcome
While not a common practice, post-trial research can be the tipping point in a closely deliberated trial that sets the motions for the next steps of a lawyer and their client. Post-trial research can prove that the jury came to a fair conclusion, but if they did not, the research is key to setting that wrong right.
At Jonathan Leach LLC, our mission is to provide attorneys and represented parties with the best case possible. Our trial consulting firm can assist you in all aspects of your post-trial research.
Contact us today to discuss our unique services.