Daily Business Review: Social Science Looks to Demystify the Jury Selection Process

The use of jury consultants who use empirical analysis to find out how a firm’s case will play in front of a jury before a trial ever begins has become standard practice — especially in high-stakes litigation.

By Dylan Jackson | February 20, 2019 at 06:09 PM

Screen Shot 2019-02-25 at 2.05.43 PMJury selection has long been a cryptic process, and every trial attorney has a juror war story and list of voir dire taboos.

Some have called it pure guesswork. Others have described it as a combination of psychology and the dark arts.

But Marjorie Sommer, co-founder of the Florida trial consulting firm Focus Litigation, believes lawyers have too many preconceptions about jury selection. She and her partner Geri Satin say the process need not be a mystery.

“It’s a numbers game,” Satin said.

Through qualitative and quantitative analysis (Satin has a doctorate degree in legal psychology from Florida International University) and with the help of a thousand focus groups, mock trials, and real-world verdicts, Sommer and Satin counsel law firms, companies and even government agencies about what type of jury could help their case.

Over the past two decades, the use of trial consultants has become ubiquitous in high-profile cases. In 1983, the American Society of Trial Consultants had less than 20 members. Today, the organization boasts nearly 300. While in its infancy, the industry was viewed with much skepticism. But as the digital era has matured, data analytics has grown more sophisticated, transforming jury consulting into a legal industry that is accepted and even embraced.

Much of their job, Satin said, is to demystify the jury selection process and use their combined 30 years of legal experience to provide actionable recommendations based on their findings…

“Here we are, all lawyers, and we’re trained on the legal issues. We’re not really trained on the social science part of it,” said Bruce Katzen, founding partner of Miami-based boutique litigation firm Kluger, Kaplan, Silverman, Katzen & Levine. “It’s good to hear how ‘real people’ react.”

After both sides argue their case, the mock jury deliberations are recorded for analysis and a verdict is rendered. Satin and Sommer then compile a report that can run hundreds of pages, stuffed with recommendations, quantitative analysis that uses a juror’s responses to specific questions to correlate a verdict. Advice to clients could include formulating precise questions for voir dire, pointing out what juries perceived as weaknesses in a case, and highlighting the most effective visual aids.

But their job isn’t only about jury selection. Satin and Sommer say some of their biggest “wins” come before jury selection even begins. If an insurance company has $500 million in exposure, and the focus groups and mock juries are returning consistent findings against their client, they will advise the client to work on a settlement instead of recommending a trial. If the company settles for $50 million instead of losing big in the courtroom, Satin and Sommer see that as a victory.

“One of the most reliable things we give is a reality check,” Sommer said.

Read the full article in the Daily Business Review. 

 

How technology has changed ADA lawsuits

Michael Landen (1)Each week, large companies across the country often find themselves facing lawsuits for alleged violations of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), particularly when it comes to wheelchair ramps and accessible parking. However, companies need to be aware that they could soon become the target for a new type lawsuit under the ADA…claims that their website is not compliant with the law by being inaccessible to the visually impaired.

ADA litigation related to website accessibility has surged in recent years. In the first six months of last year alone 1,053 such lawsuits were filed nationwide and increase from 814 cases in all of 2017.

The ADA protects the rights of the physically impaired to receive services at the same level and quality as everyone else. Given that many online services can be treated as “public accommodations,” entities that provide extra services on their website are the largest targets for these claims. Businesses in the retail and hospitality industries are particularly vulnerable for becoming a target for this type of lawsuit. As such, businesses should make sure that their websites conform to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 standards and minimalize impaired people’s limitations to having full access to the site.

It is important for all businesses to consider how to reduce their potential liability. While complying with the WCAG 2.1 is not a complete shield against ADA lawsuits, it should be every business’s first step in reducing its liability exposure.

As we begin the new year, Florida’s Eleventh Circuit is expected to rule on a decision that may open the floodgates for lawsuits over website accessibility. Last October, the federal appeals court heard arguments in Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. appeal of a June 2017. The decision concluded that blind plaintiff Juan Carlos Gil has alleged the incompatibility of Winn-Dixie’s website with standard screen reader software, thus denying him the full and equal access of what the company offers to sighted customers.

Businesses need to be constantly aware that ADA-related litigation is continually expanding into digital territory as technology becomes more necessary in our day-to-day lives. Being proactive and taking steps to limit exposure could prevent you from becoming the latest target for this kind of lawsuit.

Kluger Kaplan Silverman Katzen & Levine Names Lindsay Haber as Partner

Screen Shot 2018-12-12 at 5.34.45 PMMIAMI – January 17, 2019 –Preeminent litigation firm Kluger, Kaplan, Silverman, Katzen & Levine, is pleased to announce that Lindsay Haber has been elected to the firm’s partnership. Previously, Ms. Haber served as an Associate in Kluger Kaplan’s Family Law Group since joining the firm in 2011.

Ms. Haber focuses her practice on family law disputes, including divorces, child custody issues, domestic violence and preparations of prenuptial agreements and paternity disputes. Beyond her national practice, she has handled international domestic issues, including a kidnapping that crossed borders.

“Over the years, Lindsay has shown dedication, expertise, persistence, and an understanding of how to provide outstanding client service and counsel. We are lucky to have her continue to grow under the Kluger Kaplan brand.” said Alan J. Kluger, a founding member of Kluger Kaplan. “Today’s announcement of Lindsay joining the firm’s partnership is another milestone in our firm’s growth and underscores the strength of our rising talent.”

For the last three years, Ms. Haber has held the position of a Director on the Board of the Broward County Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Section where she most recently assisted in organizing its first-annual “Law-LaPalooza” Bench and Bar Conference in December 2018. She is also a member of the Broward Matrimonial Lawyers Association. Her past leadership roles include The Network Rush Hour Chair in 2012-2013 for the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, and the Florida Association for Women Lawyers (FAWL) Membership Committee Chair in 2011-2012. She has also presented to national industry groups concerning timely topics related to family law.

Prior to Kluger Kaplan, Ms. Haber interned for Legal Aid of Broward County. She received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Florida, and attended Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad Law Center, where she graduated summa cum laude with her Juris Doctorate degree. During this time, she was also the submissions editor of Nova Law Review, President of Phi Alpha Delta, and Vice President of Teams of the Nova Trial Association.

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About Kluger, Kaplan, Silverman, Katzen & Levine, P.L.

Kluger, Kaplan, Silverman, Katzen & Levine, P.L. focuses on complex, high-stakes disputes across a broad range of disciplines and industries, including all aspects of business and corporate litigation; real estate related litigation; intellectual property litigation; employment litigation; securities and financial fraud; corporate governance; bankruptcy related litigation and debtor and creditor’s rights; appeals in state and federal courts; professional liability; intellectual property disputes; class actions; and complex matrimonial, probate and trust litigation.  The firm’s veteran litigators have served as lead class counsel in federal multi-district litigation and trials in federal and state courts throughout the country.  The firm has offices in Miami, Boca Raton and Minneapolis.

Treating Children of Divorce: The Legal Do’s and Don’ts for Pediatricians

Thousands of families experience the stress of divorce each year. While parents who are in the midst of a separation should put aside their differences for their child’s wellbeing, there are those that will misuse their child’s pediatrician to exclude the other parent from-decision making – potentially placing the physician in the middle of the dispute.

Screen Shot 2018-12-12 at 5.34.45 PMCommonly, parents and guardians will ask their child’s doctor to send a letter to the other parent or to a lawyer amid complex divorces. Doctors are often uneducated on how to properly help parents in such a conflict, including communication protocols, setting rules about what will be discussed in front of the child, and how to keep records for legal cases.

Last month, Kluger Kaplan’s Lindsay Haber spoke at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Convention during the education session, Children of Divorce: Helping Children and Families Manage the Challenges, leading the discussion about the legal perspective of treating children with divorced parents. This particular issue is multifaceted because there is not a one size fits all solution. Cases deliberated were approached first from a medical perspective and then followed by the legal perspective, as Lindsay educated pediatricians about their role in common problems that arise.

She advised the group to not overstep boundaries and to preserve neutrality by not recommending lawyers to their patients. She also left the pediatricians with practice changes they may consider with future patients including:

* Creating family assessment intake forms to be filled out yearly to learn about changes to custody, living arrangements, or decision making,

* Becoming familiar with divorce education programs, divorce mediation professionals, or support groups in the area,

* Screening children who have experienced divorce for depression and anxiety, and

* Discussing the impact of divorce on all family members during well-child visits.

It’s vital doctors establish with parents and guardians that they are unable to take sides, keep secrets or be a go-between. It just as important that doctors also avoid offering to call and repeat visit details to the parent not in attendance. The child needs equal access to both parents as do the child’s doctors unless circumstances advocate otherwise, and parents need to develop strong co-parenting strategies for the child to be provided with proper medical care.

Daily Business Review: Real Estate Agent Loses Job After Video Shows Her Mocking Gillum Supporters in Election Protest

Kluger Kaplan’s Michael Landen provides employment law insights in today’s Daily Business Review. 

Michael Landen_226 greyA United Realty Group Inc. real estate agent demonstrating with protesters calling for the firing of the Broward election supervisor is out of a job following a high-profile Twitter video.

Liliana Albarino-Olinick was fired Saturday as an independent contractor with Plantation-based United Realty after videos surfaced of her mocking and berating supporters of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum.

Employment law attorneys said United Realty acted within its rights as an employer dealing with fallout from tight Florida elections that triggered automatic recounts in three statewide races, including Gillum’s run for governor…

Michael Landen, a partner at Kluger, Kaplan, Silverman, Katzen & Levine in Miami, said there’s no reason United Realty couldn’t sever its relationship with the Olinicks since they were independent contractors.

Private employers dealing with contractors have the right to say, “You know what, we are not going to do business with that company. We don’t like what they stand for.”

Click here to read the full article.