By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm:
A recent piece in The New York Times focuses on the increasing prevalence of longer questionnaires for those called in for jury duty. While such questionnaires tend to attract media attention in high-profile cases, the article notes that they've "become a familiar presence in courtrooms across the United States." The reaction from consultants and many litigators, though, is probably "...still not as familiar as we would like." While the article focuses on questions of often-limited utility (e.g., What TV shows do you watch?), the use of a questionnaire holds far greater potential. In nearly all cases, a focused questionnaire can yield data that makes your jury selection more targeted, accurate, and effective. Yet SJQs still aren't an expected tool for most judges. In our own surveys of judges, we have found the number one reason why judges don't use them: They're not asked to. So ask. And in building your case for a questionnaire, you'll have a much easier time of winning judicial approval when you make it 1) a joint request, and 2) for an appropriate and to-the-point questionnaire.
But how you ask for that questionnaire still matters, and the logistics of administration matter as well. In this post, I will share seven reasons for a questionnaire, and also three factors that, when present, kill the usefulness of the questionnaire.