"Forget what you fear about shadow juries. Go virtual!" said Cynthia R. Cohen at the 11th Annual Women in Products Liability workshop in New York. "Virtual Shadow Juries are not your mother's shadow jury."
Dr. Cohen presented a paper describing the history of shadow juries, including some famous success stories, as well as the limits of shadow juries. Cohen's paper then described the impact of virtual shadow juries, which she characterized as "the wave of the future in high stakes and bellwether trials," because they are safer, more flexible, and more productive than traditional shadow juries. "The technology benefits those who use it," said Cohen.
A shadow jury is like a focus group continuing throughout the trial. The focus of the research is on the effectiveness of communication. Many trial teams use shadow juries both before and during trial to get useful feedback.
"Trial lawyers entrenched in case facts, law, and strategy, need objective eyes and ears to tell how the trial is perceived in the jury box," said Cohen. However, relying on office staff or family members introduces inherent bias. According to Cohen, shadow juries offer these benefits:
1. Understanding jury comprehension of opening statements and witness testimony.
2. Shifting strategy based on juror feedback.
3. Better approach to settlement and damage issues.
4. Evaluating and preparing witnesses.
5. Incorporating feedback into closing arguments.
Dr. Cohen then described additional benefits available only when the shadow jury goes virtual.