Shadow juries: Expensive but insightful tool
By Sylvia Hsieh
The Daily Record Newswire
BOSTON (Dolan Media) — During a recent med-mal trial in Pennsylvania against two doctors and a hospital over a birth injury, 12 people with similar attributes to the 12 jurors filed in and out of the observation area of the courtroom every time the actual jurors took a break during a recess, lunch break or sidebar conference. The 12 visitors were shadow jurors, chosen for their demographic similarities to the real jurors to give their detailed opinions about each day’s events to the trial lawyers.
The shadow jurors were not told — in fact great pains were taken to make sure they did not find out — which side of the dispute hired them.
Unbeknownst to the shadow jurors, the trial consultant who debriefed them each day was hired by the plaintiffs’ legal team.
“They didn’t know [for whom] they were working … but they were observing and giving feedback. Every day, they were debriefed during the lunch break, and we would receive feedback about what could be done better, how they evaluated each witness, and which defenses were stronger than others,” said Daniel Weinstock, the plaintiffs’ attorney.