Robinson Crusoe On Venue Analysis: Reconnoitering In Unfamiliar Territory
by Larry Carson
Settlement talks didn’t work. And now you’re heading to a little town where you’ve never been to try a case before people you’ve never seen. You don’t know the language, customs or connections within the community. But your opponent is a native, and knows the inner workings of the entire community. You’re a stranger in a strange land. Welcome to Robinson Crusoe Island.
But unlike Crusoe, you had prior notice that you were coming, so you brought along your guidebook- a venue analysis research report prepared from census data, which is now five years old. The venue report has the usual information on the general population- age, employment, education, voter analysis, income, home ownership etc. There’s also a separate report on recent verdicts and some general backup on the nature of the previous cases and parties involved.
Crusoe didn’t have a guidebook. He did make frequent trips to the boat to retrieve all the equipment that he could possibly imagine would be of use, thus producing, directing and writing his own survivor reality show. But he was basing his needs on preconceived assumptions and lacked clear intelligence on what he would actually be facing.
Just like Crusoe, you’ll need intelligence because you’ll find all too soon that the people the census says live in the town bear little resemblance to those who show up for jury duty. Toss the census.
Now grab your pack and stuff it with answers to the following questions regarding this pool and those of previous cases tried in the same venue:
- What does the current pool look like as viewed through social media and public records?
- What does data analysis show for previous pools?
- How have the jurors differed in each case that went to verdict?
- What characteristics did previous jurors share?
- How were the previous jurors connected via social media? Who knows who and how?
- Do the current pool members share social media connections with jurors from previous cases? What about their connections to similar cases, opposing counsel, witnesses and judges?
- How have the “likes” of previous jurors shown similarities? Differences?
- What about media coverage and social listening? Is the case being talked about? Who’s talking and what are they saying?
- Do any members of the current pool “like” particular news organizations that are voicing an opinion of the case?
- What are the “likes” of the current pool? How do these interests compare to opposing counsel and his client? Same church, social groups, causes of interest?
Then you can get back to the most pressing questions that you share with the great adventurer:
- How can I tell friend from foe?
- Where do I stay?
- Are there any decent places to eat?
- And the all important- how long am I going to be here?
But who knows, you may like the little town. And, you may even get your Friday on the jury.