A shadow jury is a specific type of focus group that a lawyer or a trial consultant can use in order help them understand how a jury is likely to perceive a case. Generally, shadow juries are used during trial to evaluate what is occurring during a jury trial and which arguments are effective and which arguments do not have a good chance of success. Although shadow juries are commonly used during a jury trial, shadow juries can also be used before trial to evaluate a case.
In general, shadow jurors are selected to mirror actual jurors that are selected in a case. There are a number of factors that are considered in selecting shadow jurors. Generally, it is considered advantageous to match shadow jurors with actual jurors based upon demographic criteria, such as race, gender and age. However, it is important to match shadow jurors to the actual jurors on a case on the basis of more than superficial demographic factors.
There are many characteristics that are important to take into consideration when selecting a shadow jury. One of the most important is the likelihood that a juror would be a leader or a follower in the jury room. Some jurors have much more influence over deliberations than others. Some jurors will have the strength in the jury room to not simply go along with what others say. It is important to know what the leaders in the jury room will consider important in a particular case.
It is important for both a trial consultant selecting a shadow jury or a jury consultant selecting an actual jury to consider the evidence that the jury will hear when considering what attitudes that a juror might have that might be important to their decision. A juror on a criminal case will very likely have to consider very different issues than a juror on a civil case. Also, every case is different and generally has unique issues that must be considered in both jury selection and in trial strategy.