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New CBS Series Bull puts Trial Consulting Firms in the Spotlight

Michael Becker

On September 20, episode 1 of the new CBS series Bull introduced us to Dr. Jason Bull, the founder of a very successful trial consulting firm. Armed with three PhDs and an uncanny insight into human nature, the brash but brilliant Dr. Bull (played by Michael Weatherly) is astoundingly good at building a case for his clients.

The series is inspired by Dr. Phil McGraw’s earlier avatar as a jury consultant. Before he gained fame as an author, Oprah guest, and host of his own daytime show, Dr. Phil (executive producer on the show) was the founder of a company called Courtroom Sciences, where he used his Ph.D. in psychology to help trial lawyers win cases with the help of mock trials, behavior analysis, and jury selection.

What is trial consulting?

Trial consulting is a science that uses the expertise of psychologists, economists, and communication experts to help attorneys build and present their case to a jury. A trial consulting firm helps with:

  • In-depth witness preparation
  • Improving arguments
  • Jury selection
  • Tailoring arguments to appeal to selected jurors

Trial consultants use mock trials, mirror juries, shadow jurors, and surveys to help tilt the jury’s opinion in their favor. Experts at a trial consultation firm come from many different fields. A stylist may be on board to fine-tune the client and make them more appealing to the jury. Linguistics experts, former detectives, and hackers can all be part of the team.

Trial consultants use state-of-the-art technology to dig deep into the each juror’s life, including their background, behavior, and online activity. A mirror jury is created and used to test every possible courtroom scenario.

Does jury consulting really work?

 Jury consulting has become big business since it was first used in the 1970s. Many studies have proven that social science, demographics, and statistics are useful tools in picking a panel. Although trial consulting is more a science than art, the ability to read facial expressions and body language comes more easily to some people than others.

The legal process of jury selection is based on the Latin phrase voir dire (speak the truth). Lawyers ask potential jurors questions to determine their candidacy to serve on the jury.  Prospective juror values that may impact decision making are attempted to be discovered during this process.

What role does jury selection play in medical malpractice lawsuits?

Jury selection is especially important in medical malpractice lawsuits. Jurors can be easily confused by experts, leading to an irrational evaluation of the evidence. What makes proving negligence even more difficult is the fact that most cases where the evidence for defendant liability is strong tend to settle prior to trial.

Has Becker Law Firm used these techniques?

Absolutely. Becker Law Firm has the resources to deploy advanced techniques like jury consulting & mock juries.  In a 1999 medical malpractice case, attorney Michael F. Becker used a mock jury and shadow jurors to obtain a $25,500,000 judgment, one of the largest in Ohio history.

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