FOCUS GROUP STUDIES

NOTE: My wife and I leave for Botswana Africa this week and I will not be posting anything for several weeks. Thanks  for checking back later

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We all know the value  of focus studies. The problem is  there are so many ways  of  conducting focus studies that they can lead  to incorrect conclusions. My own view is that mock trial studies, that is presenting a mini trial with plaintiff and defense evidence  and argument is fraught  with the danger of invalid conclusions. Even with professional help so much depends upon who presents the material,  what is presented and  how it is presented that there is a large danger of drawing  invalid conclusions  because a trial is battle  of impression. The impression can vary greatly depending upon the previous factors. You can draw conclusions about issues, evidence and specific matters as well as gain insight  about issues and even some information about jury profile. However, any broad conclusions about winning or losing and verdict amounts is very suspect.

Extensive focus studies done by professionals can be very expensive and often exceed $20,000 depending  upon how they are conducted. I understand  why many lawyers  feel this is a bargain, but my  own view  is that informal focus studies are more beneficial for  me, although having  a  professional consultant is always a good idea if  you can do it.

My  approach is  the  less that is provided by way of facts  the greater the value of what you learn. I also believe focus groups can be very helpful regarding evaluation of clips of deposition testimony, exhibits you plan to use, voir dire and other case issues. I also think multiple focus groups are helpful and  they do not have to be an elaborate affair.

If one conducts a mock trial focus study or a more complicated study, the question is what do you ask the jurors after it is over? I am not endorsing the procedure or the following questions, but here is a general outline of  specific questions one might consider. This is not an approach I use, but I present  it as a resource.  The questions are no original with me, but gathered from a lot of sources I no longer recall.

  1. What are the two most important things you have heard so far about this case?
  2. What are the two most important things you have heard so far that help the injured plaintiff case? (Please answer this no matter which way you’re leaning)
  3. What are the two most important things you have heard so far that hurt her cases? (Please answer this no matter which way you’re leaning
  4. Wat are the two most important things you have heard so far that help the defendant case?
  5. What are the two most important things you have heard so far that hurt the case?
  6. If this case goes to trial in a courtroom, some jurors might decide that the plaintiffs should win this case.  What do you think would be the two most important reasons they would do that?
  7. If this case goes to trial in a courtroom, some jurors might decide that the plaintiffs should lose this case.  What do you think would be the two most important reasons they would do that?
  8. What could have been done to prevent this from happening?
  9. If this case goes in front of a courtroom jury, what will be the three most important things for the plaintiffs’ attorney to tell the jury? 
  10. If this case goes in front of a courtroom jury, what will be the three most important things for the attorney for the defendants to tell the jury? 
  11. Was the defendant negligent? __ Absolutely  yes___ Probably  yes___ Probably  not___ Absolutely  not
  12. Please explain why you feel that way:
  13. A defendant can be negligent and still not be a cause of the harm.  With that in mind.  Was any negligence of defendant a cause of the harm to plaintiff?___ Absolutely  yes___ Probably  yes___ Probably  not___ Absolutely  not
  14. Please explain why you feel that way
  15. How much money should the defendant  pay to plaintiff?___ nothing___ A very small amount___ More than a small amount but less than his lawyers are asking for___ About what his lawyers are asking for___ More than his lawyers are asking for
  16. What else would you like to know in deciding the money?
  17. What helped you decide how much money was the right amount in compensation?
  18. What facts or arguments made it hard for you to decide about money?
  19. If other jurors decide on amounts of money higher than you did, why do you think they would do that?
  20. If other jurors decide on amounts of money lower than you did, why do you think they would do that?
  21. What would you like to say to anyone involved in this case?
  22. What would you like to see happen as a result of your decision-making in this case?
  23. How do you think cases like this one might best be resolved?
  24. What would you like to say to anyone involved in this case?
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