Trial Science and How it Affects Your Defense

If you are facing trial in Illinois, you may be considering the use of trial scientists, consultants such as psychologists, and communication experts who aid attorneys in the evaluation and presentation of a trial or lawsuit. Because they understand how people and groups make decisions, trial consultants are used to help prepare witnesses, improve arguments and rhetoric, and select juries that may be favorable to your defense.

While trial consultants can help, they add an extra layer of expense to your defense costs, and it is questionable as to whether the science involved is always accurate.  The experienced and seasoned Illinois criminal law attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd., understand the seriousness of having to face a trial, and we offer aggressive representation for clients facing criminal charges. We know the courts and the criminal justice system and how to plea bargain, negotiate guidelines and recognize when to take your case to trial.  We offer a free consultation to gather information about your situation and look at all viable defense options, including whether trial consultants would be of use and how to handle situations when they are utilized by the opposition.

What Do Trial Scientists Do?

Trial scientists are consultants who are trained in psychology, statistical analysis, social sciences and modeling. They use scientific methods to analyze the trial process and help increase the chances of winning.

Methods include:

1) Evaluating Your Case

This helps determine whether an early resolution of a case is necessary through examining the direction and focus of discovery, preparing for mediation, and figuring out what jurors expect to hear from witnesses.

2) Holding Focus Groups to Assess Your Case

A group of surrogate jurors is presented with relevant information that will be used in the trial.  The trial scientists share witness testimony videos, exhibits, and jury instructions, allowing your attorneys to observe and focus on surrogate juror responses and behavior.

3) Holding Mock Trials

Mock trials simulate an actual trial.  Your attorneys make opening presentations to a group of surrogate jurors and witnesses, using live or video presentations.  This practice helps get attorneys and clients ready to face challenges that may arise during real trial.

4) Preparing Witnesses

Trial scientists prepare witnesses to help them be relaxed, confident, and ready to accurately respond to questions and cross examinations. Preparation before the trial helps them know what to expect, get familiar with court proceedings, and puts them at ease.

5) Help with Jury Selection

Selecting the proper jury can determine whether you win or lose your case. Trial scientists may develop a written juror questionnaire, assist with voir dire questions to weed out unsympathetic jurors and find those most likely to be on your side, and help determine when to use strikes.  In addition, they use technological equipment and databases for enhancing the presentation of evidence and collecting information about prospective jurors.

Consultants use juror profiles developed from statistical analyses involving mock jurors in the same or similar cases, and they make educated guesses about how jurors are most likely to vote.  In addition, consultants may use non-verbal clues, such as jurors’ facial expressions and body language while being questioned, to determine which jurors may be most or least sympathetic to a case.

While selecting a jury, trial consultants consider jury dynamics and attempt to identify the likely leaders.  A hostile juror who is inarticulate, shy, and unlikely to be able to convince others on the panel, might be allowed, while one who shows confidence and authority might be stricken.

Once the jury is chosen, consultants consider the backgrounds, experiences, and attitudes of the jurors and adjust arguments and presentation styles accordingly.

How Important is What Trial Consultants Do?

While trial consultants can be helpful, not every case requires a trial consultant, and having or not having one is not the deciding factor as to whether a case will be won or lost.

It is impossible for even the best trained social scientist to know what every juror will be thinking during a trial. The information consultants collect is publicly available on social media, public records databases, or internet search engines and available to all attorneys.

Nonverbal behavior and cues such as facial expressions and body language are not always an accurate predictor of jurors’ thinking.  Jurors may be upset by something outside of the courtroom, or they may just be uncomfortable rather than hostile to a particular point of view.

Mock trials and mirror jurors may help attorneys prepare for trial, determine how jurors might react to their case facts, and help identify areas of strength, weakness and possible confusion in the case.  However, they cannot determine trial outcome accurately, because it is impossible to anticipate the exact arguments, evidence, judicial rulings, attorney styles, and jurors that will be present at trial.

Put Your Trust In Us — Contact Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. for a Free Consultation.

Trial law is complicated, and your future is at stake, so if you are accused of a crime in Illinois, you need to hire the best criminal defense attorney that you can find.  The Illinois criminal defense lawyers at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. are skilled trial lawyers who believe each case is unique, with its own set of circumstances. We examine the facts, the individuals involved, and the evidence available, and work hand in hand with our clients throughout the criminal process to come up with an effective defense strategy. Our goal is always to minimize the negative impact of the situation and to focus on protecting your freedoms, liberties and rights.

After analyzing your situation, we will be best able to determine whether a trial scientist will benefit your case. If we feel that consultants will increase your chances, we will work with them as part of our trial team.

We are aggressive litigators, and we will answer all your questions and make sure you fully understand the facts surrounding your case.  We represent clients in DuPage County, Will County, Cook County, Naperville, Aurora, Wheaton, Downers Grove and Bolingbrook, and the greater Chicagoland area.

Delaying can only make your situation worse, so call 630-305-0222 today to schedule your free initial consultation.


Attorney Marc Wolfe

Marc Wolfe has been representing clients in criminal matters in Chicago and the entire State of Illinois for over 30 years. Mr. Wolfe has tried over 300 cases to verdict and represents clients facing investigation or prosecution for a broad range of state and federal criminal offenses, including murder, embezzlement, sexual abuse, drugs, marijuana and white collar crimes. [ Attorney Bio ]