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Content Analysis and Demonstrative Aids

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By Amy Singer, Ph.D., Diana Greninger and Kemberlee Bonnet

Demonstrative aids are a means to present specific elements of a case. One way to assess the effectiveness of your demonstrative aid is through content analysis of real-time mock juror responses. By identifying patterns and themes among juror responses, content analysis allows for a more in-depth insight regarding strategic methods an attorney can implement for successful use of demonstrative aids.

Wizpor®Real-Time Response Collection for Content Analysis

Wizpor® methodology is used to collect a large quantity of real-time mock juror responses. Through the use of online simulcast focus groups conducted in real time, you obtain immediate juror responses from as many jurors that you want on a panel. Wizpor® has the capability to quantify these qualitative responses. Juror responses are then organized into the six following criteria: emotions, questions, observations, judgments, relating and game changers. Juror responses are transcribed and coded by the use of criteria buttons and the information in turn is used for content analysis. We addressed emotions, or sentiment, in last week’s article entitled Technology and public sentiment: How to create the most effective demonstrative aids. In this article, we will discuss content analysis of real-time juror responses using Wizpor®, by identifying pertinent information regarding the effectiveness of demonstrative aids.

Content Analysis and Demonstrative Aids: Data

As data is collected, the analyses of real-time juror responses is used to identify patterns and themes. Armed with that information, one can develop strategic angles to apply the demonstrative aids in the most effective manner.

Questions

People require knowledge in order to make decisions. Knowing what questions decision makers have guide the decision making processes. There are two types of questions that we have found to be essential in guiding jurors’ decision making process: Questions that educate and questions that persuade.

Questions that educate provide information regarding issues surrounding what is known about the case so far. These questions are worded in such a way that it is apparent that the individual actually wants an answer to the question they are posing. These direct questions are clear indicators on what the juror needs to know. Wizpor® allows you identify not only the questions that surround your existing demonstrative aids and how those might need to be improved, but it also tells you what demonstrative aids might be missing. For example, in a computerized reenactment, a juror might want to know missing information as to the direction that the vehicle was actually traveling (North, South, etc.) In contrast, in a medical malpractice case involving multiple doctor visits, Wizpor® jurors might express the need for clarity as to the date in which each visit occurred, the treatment provided in each visit and by which doctor. This feedback signals the need for the implementation of a timeline as a demonstrative aid in your presentation.

Questions that persuade are generally rhetorical questions that do not warrant a specific answer but that are posed to imply opinion and oftentimes judgment. These questions can be used as demonstrative aid titles, as they diffuse responsibility onto the decision maker. This can subtly influence the juror to have the kind of response desired.

Observations

Observation comments indicate the key components that jurors have observed about the various case aspects. These comments are more about pointing out key components and less about passing judgment. This often applies in witness preparation regarding the witness’ mannerisms, facial expressions and behavior. Wizpor® jurors provide unguarded observational feedback regarding witness characteristics that can affect the perceived credibility. In addition, Wizpor® jurors often provide observational feedback as to the physical appearance and perceived credibility of an attorney, and the effectiveness of the delivery of his or her message.

Judgments

Judgment comments indicate a clear judgment call based on specific elements about the case. These comments are direct opinions oftentimes based on observation but go a step beyond a mere observation by inciting judgment. With respect to demonstrative aids, jurors tell us if what they have observed is helpful or not and if the information they just heard prompted a preliminary decision about the case in their minds. The phenomenon of Wizpor® is juror readiness to express their unfiltered judgments, providing the attorney with direct and clear information about a demonstrative aid. For example, you can simply say, “What are your thoughts or feelings about the model?” and the Wizpor® jurors will respond without hesitation. Wizpor® allows attorneys to become “the fly on the wall” in our jury room, as our mock jurors volunteer their thought processes as it is happening.

Relating

People who relate themselves to the topic of conversation often become influencers on the jury. Influencers are extremely important, as they help sway the group decision one way or another. There are two types of influencers: Positive influencers (our best advocates in the jury room); and negative influencers (our nemeses in the jury room). We must do a thorough voir dire to identify and eliminate negative influencers. Influencers can have a level of authority over the group, therefore it is important to accommodate their concerns regarding your demonstrative aids. For example a negative influencer might say, “I have been in a car accident that resulted in much more vehicle damage. It appears in this picture that the only damage that occurred is to the bumper of the plaintiff’s vehicle. The extent of his physical injuries does not seem plausible.” A comment such as this provides you with information that can be used to modify the use or presentation of your demonstrative aid. Wizpor® allows you to determine that jurors would need additional photographs or even an animation in order to comprehend the true impact that a collision had on the driver.

Game changers

Game Changer comments indicate pivotal points when people heard additional information pertaining to the case that caused them to change their minds. If you discover a game changer in a Wizpor® session, you can see if the change occurred during or close to the use of your demonstrative aid. For example, a video animation of the impact a collision had on a driver might have been what the juror needed in order to grasp the concept of the nature of his or her injury.

Conclusion

Content analysis of real-time mock juror responses through Wizpor® provides you with significant insight as to the effectiveness of your existing demonstrative aids as well as to whether you need additional demonstratives. By the identification of case-specific patterns and themes of juror responses embedded into questions, observations, judgments, relating and game changers, you will be equipped with insight that will help you identify what works, what doesn’t and what needs attention in your demonstrative aids. Why waste time and effort using ineffective demonstrative aids? Would you find Wizpor® feedback on demonstrative aids valuable in your trial preparation?

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