By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm:
Gone are the days when trial consultants were just jury-pickers. Today, your trial consultant -- more broadly, a litigation consultant -- is likely to offer a variety of services ranging, as we say, "From first filing to final appeal:" case assessment, strategy, witness preparation, mock trial and focus group research, and jury selection as well. Speaking from our own experience, one of the less frequently used services within that toolbox is the community attitude survey, or "CAS." It means polling three hundred 0r so within the juror-eligible population in your trial venue to discover and use the particular attitudes and beliefs that characterize your venue. Unlike the special purpose surveys associated with a change of venue motion, the surveys I'm referring to are conducted with an eye toward remaining protected work product which is used to inform the attorney's strategy for trial. The relative infrequency of that kind of survey is surprising because many of the barriers that can pull attorneys away from other consulting services aren't present with the CAS: They're not typically high dollar, usually don't involve long-term planning and advance notice, and rarely take much if any time from the attorneys. But they can be enormously useful. Here are seven ways to use them.
Community Attitude Surveys Can Be Used To...
1. Choose Your Trial Venue
Outside the specific situation of a change of venue motion, there are other scenarios where you might have some choice on where to file or try the case. In those settings, your high-stakes decision needs to be based on more than just demographics, which are not predictive of ultimate verdict. Instead, when you face a choice, take the time to measure the case-relevant attitudes and experiences in the venues you are comparing.