Here is a story about a court ordering a jury consultant for an indigent defendant accused of murdering a police officer. According to the article, the court has allocated $60,690 to hire a jury consultant for the defense. I am surprised that more attorneys don't make this request to the court especially in death penalty cases.
For those interested in learning more about using or employing trial consultants in criminal cases involving indigent clients, I recommend viewing the website of Marjorie Fargo of Jury Services Inc who provides a sample of court appointment materials.
According to the news report below, the government retained a jury consultant (Richard Gabriel) to assist them in the Kwame Kilpatrick corruption trial. This is not the first time that prosecutors have retained a consultant to help in the prosecution of a high-profile mayor. A jury consultant was used during the corruption trial of the former mayor of Baltimore, Sheila Dixon. The use of jury consultants by the prosecution raises an interesting question about whether judges should be more willing to approve funds for indigent defendants to hire their own jury consultants, especially since most of the information uncovered by a trial consultant is not subject to the Rules of Discovery. I previously blogged about providing trial consultants for indigent clients here.
Lately, it appears that courts have become more willing to appoint trial consultants for indigent clients in criminal cases. This is definitely a positive development especially in light of the fact that trial consultants are used not only by well-to-do criminal defendants but also prosecutors. Edward Schwartz, author of JuryBoxBlog, has recently written about his experiences serving as a trial consultant in criminal cases. I also recently posted about one of the defendants in the Kwame Kilpatrick corruption trial who requested funds to hire a trial consultant. For those interested in learning more about using or employing trial consultants in criminal cases involving indigent clients, I recommend viewing the website of Marjorie Fargo of Jury Services Inc who provides a sample of court appointment materials.
Unlike legal representation, criminal defendants do not have a constitutional right to a jury consultant. Nonetheless, judges have allowed criminal defense attorneys to hire jury consultants at taxpayer's expense. In the Digital Age, consultants are very helpful in not only screening jurors but also monitoring their online activity. Defense counsel are not alone when it comes to using trial consultants. Prosecutors have also relied on consultants e.g., the corruption trial of Sheila Dixon.
Don't have time to research your jurors online or monitor their Internet activity? Well, the trial consultants at Magna Legal Services are here to help. For $295 they will do both. According to the firm's web site, its Jury Scout will:
create detailed profiles for each individual juror based on their online habits, which include but are not limited to: frequency of updates (in terms of photos, status, and comments), the number of social network profiles each juror has, whether their blogs and profiles are protected (i.e., locked down), the number of online aliases, how much personal content is revealed within public forums, opinions on current events and religion, and if said juror is prone to signing online petitions. By creating a personalized matrix of information for each juror, Jury Scout can predict whether they will pose a threat to the case.
At present, many attorneys and trial consultants perform similar services. However, this is the first time I have seen a trial consulting firm actually specifically advertise such services. The Jury Scout has also generated news in the media.
This new book is your thorough guide to the way jurors make decisions, and how you can use that knowledge to convince them that your story of a case is the correct version. The author--who holds a Ph.D in psychology, for which he researched persuasion and juror decision-making--walks you though every stage of the trial and offers comprehensive information on what jurors are thinking when, and how to influence them in the most effective ways.
Here is a brief description of the author
Gregory (Brad) Bradshaw is the president of Bradshaw Litigation Consulting, LLC. He has a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Kentucky where his research included persuasion and juror decision-making. Dr. Bradshaw is a minimalist, a cancer survivor, and a marathon runner, who has been reducing cases to their simplest terms since 2001. Nothing is more important to him than his friends and family.
This is the question before federal judge Myron Thompson who is presiding over the prosecution of Milton McGregor in Montgomery, Alabama. McGregor, whose trial starts June 6th, is charged with using campaign contributions and other means to try to buy votes for a gambling bill.
According to the prosecutors handling the case, members of the defense team are attempting to taint potential jurors through a telephonic poll. Here is a recent editorial in the Montgomery Advertiser on the issue.
Now there is concern that push poll techniques are being used not in a political sense, but possibly as a way to influence potential jurors in the upcoming federal corruption trial involving allegations of bribes to influence gambling legislation before the Alabama Legislature.
Federal prosecutors raised concerns last week that defense was using polls to try to influence the public, and thereby potential jurors.
According to prosecutors, pollsters for Victoryland owner Milton McGregor's lawyers have been using a poll to influence potential jurors in favor of McGregor by asking loaded questions. For instance, prosecutors said people were asked if their opinion of McGregor would be affected if they knew the defendant "is a charitable man who has provided support and funding to schools and nonprofit causes throughout Alabama" or if they knew he was active in his church.
Such loaded questions certainly sound like a push-poll technique.
If push polls are being used by the defense, U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson should come down on defense attorneys like a load of bricks. As bad as push polling is in political campaigns -- one state has outlawed them -- they are even worse if used to try to skew potential jurors. Allowing them prior to trials would undermine the public's faith in the judicial system and make it extremely difficult to find unbiased jurors... to continue reading go here.
The prosecution has filed a motion asking the court to dismiss any potential juror who has been polled. The defense's response is available here. Judge Thompson is expected to rule on the prosecution's motion soon.