Mock trials are formal dress rehearsals for trial. They are best used to simulate the real pressures of trial; the real courtroom atmosphere. Mock trials provide the best opportunity to practice your opening statement and test your theories on a jury. Considering that the preparation and structured exercise of a mock trial is so extensive, attorneys who go through this process are better prepared for the actual trial.
A mock trial is more in-depth than a focus group. A mock trial is a structured thorough approach to help you shape your trial strategies. Simulating a real trial, you will be able to identify your strengths and weaknesses by the jury feedback you get. They will critique you and your case through written answers to case-specific questions and verbally during deliberations and debriefing.
Mock trial format:
In a one- or two-day format, both sides of your case, including exhibits and witnesses, are presented to a group of mock jurors. Afterwards, the jurors are divided into two or three jury panels to deliberate your case to verdict. With this feedback, you’re then able to identify what works and what doesn’t. All sessions are recorded for further review and analysis.
Pre-trial research is the key to having the advantage, an edge, which could tip the scales in your favor. Use these powerful tools to bring your challenges into focus.
The outcomes that you typically get from a mock trial are:
- A live dress rehearsal of your opening – see how the jurors respond to you and the presentation of your case.
- A live dress rehearsal of direct and cross examination of your key witnesses – you will receive important feedback about demeanor, wardrobe, tone, credibility, and competence directly from the jurors. Since jurors are giving the feedback, it takes you out of the unenviable position of criticizing your own client and keeps you in a helping role while you coach them for trial.
- Witness ratings – the jurors assist you in deciding who your strong and weak witnesses may be and in which order to put them up.
- A much more accurate view of your damages – with a much more detailed view of your case, mock jurors can come much closer than focus group members in predicting a range of the eventual jury award.
- The relative strength of the issues presented – issues will emerge from surveys and deliberations. The issues most important to the jurors tend to appear first, while smaller issues pop up here and there.
- Assisting in client management – client expectations need a kick in the pants sometimes. Mock trials help guide decisions regarding settlement, trial strategies, and generally what they will face in the courtroom if the case goes forward.
- Confirmation of your juror profile for voir dire – see if the profile you had developed from the focus groups holds true under these conditions or if the juror profile needs to be adjusted for trial.