By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm:
I have learned from talking with clients that the phrase “mock trial” can refer to many different things. There is a common core -- mock jurors hearing parts of a case and deliberating while you watch -- but beyond that, the way that it is executed can vary quite a lot. So for this post, I thought I would share my own list of 13 "best practices."
1. Randomly Recruit Your Mock Jurors
The quality of your results will only be as good as the quality of your participants going in. As I have written before, mock jurors who are randomly recruited will be more like your actual jurors than any pool gathered from a database or, worse, from a "Friends and Family" panel. Results from those poorly recruited projects can be worse than nothing, because they can be misleading. The best practice is still to rely on a mechanism, like Random Digit Dialing (or RDD), to ensure that every member of your target population has an equal chance of being contacted for the project.
2. Conduct Your Mock Trial In Your Venue
It is not just a matter of replicating the demographics of your trial venue; it is a matter of capturing a specific local knowledge that cannot be replicated anywhere else. Your consultant might have a fancy mock courtroom in their home office (as we do), but you should only use it when your trial is venued in that city. Occasionally, when the town is simply too small to trust in confidentiality (see #4 below), there will be a good reason to conduct the research in a matched venue nearby, but that is the rare exception, not the rule.