Skip to Content

Pretrial Technology

Lawyers are testing arguments and evidence online.

Academic Origins
Borrowing a tool from social scientists, academic researchers studying jury dynamics now run tests on groups pulled from the online marketplace Amazon Mechanical Turk. One study by Jessica Salerno, an assistant professor at Arizona State University, found that Mechanical Turk mock jurors were more likely to vote guilty when the graphic crime photos shown them were in color.

Imitation
The trial consulting firm DecisionQuest has built its own Web tool with 3.5 million mock jurors. A legal team can use it, for example, to test the impact of different arguments.

Time
In 24 to 48 hours, online jury research can provide the same number of responses that traditional jury research provides in one to two months. Lawyer Michael Cypers recently used online sampling to help a client decide whether to take a settlement offer with a 10-day time limit. It was helpful, he says, to know that the online jurors were skeptical of the fraud claim against his client and not convinced that negligence was involved.

Cost
An online mock jury exercise can cost $5,000 to $20,000, whereas a live mock jury costs $50,000 to $150,000. Mechanical Turk workers will take a 20-minute survey for as little as $5 per person, explains lawyer Jonas Jacobson, a trial preparation expert.

Impact
The Focal Point, a firm specializing in the visual presentation of cases, sometime uses online testing to evaluate whether evidence like simple diagrams or 3-D animations is well-recalled and useful in mock deliberations.

Limits
Cypers says that while this testing is useful, it won’t replace testing with live mock jurors, which offers the opportunity to “look in their eyes and see how they respond.”

Keep Reading

Most Popular

10 Breakthrough Technologies 2024

Every year, we look for promising technologies poised to have a real impact on the world. Here are the advances that we think matter most right now.

Scientists are finding signals of long covid in blood. They could lead to new treatments.

Faults in a certain part of the immune system might be at the root of some long covid cases, new research suggests.

AI for everything: 10 Breakthrough Technologies 2024

Generative AI tools like ChatGPT reached mass adoption in record time, and reset the course of an entire industry.

What’s next for AI in 2024

Our writers look at the four hot trends to watch out for this year

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.