Is the Movie “Runaway Jury” Closer to Reality Than We’d Like to Admit?
John Grisham’s legal thrillers that were subsequently turned into movies have long been a hit with practicing lawyers. While a little far fetched on some levels to draw audiences in, there is a kernel of truth in most of them that rings true for practicing litigators. Grisham’s story in Runaway Jury – a tale about jury consultants and the manipulation of a jury from inside the jury room on a large civil case – was one of the few that seemed a bridge too far for most. Recent developments in technology are bringing this movie a little closer to reality, though.
Taking out the element of someone inside the jury room selling the outcome to the combatant at trial willing to pay the most for a win, the scenario that otherwise plays out in the movie is starting to become more common. Jury consultants are growing in prominence, and litigants are increasingly willing to spend money on such services in big cases to predict outcomes. One of the more common approaches is to have a mock trial with hired jurors to test arguments before they are made in court. However, a newer entry into the field is using data analytics to help decide who should be on the jury.
The short explanation is artificial intelligence is being used to predict the kinds of jurors a litigant would prefer to have on the jury. Lists of preferred juror profiles can be built by using computers to identify patterns in a myriad of source material from prior cases to the backgrounds of the actual jurors to be considered for the panel. From there, picking jurors closer to the desired profile make it more likely than not you will get a predicted outcome based on statistics.
As a lawyer who still has a good amount of the “old school” in him, I am not sure this will be better than an excellent trial lawyer with good instincts and lots of experience on a case by case basis. Still, it takes some of the guesswork out and allows even the good trial lawyers who can do it to focus on other things involved in the case. As far fetched as it seemed when the movie Runaway Jury was released in 2003, it’s much more likely to become part of the legal landscape now.
ABOUT JOSH QUINTER
Josh Quinter is a commercial litigation attorney, with a focus on construction law, and an Associate Managing Principal. Mr. Quinter actively works with his clients in the areas of business planning, contract negotiation and project consulting, risk management and dispute resolution, and litigation. His client service and professionalism have earned him the distinction of being named a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer, a Lawyer on the Fast Track, and a Rising Star.
ABOUT OFFIT KURMAN
At Offit Kurman, we are our clients’ most trusted legal advisors, professionals who help maximize and protect business value and personal wealth. In every interaction, we focus on furthering our clients’ objectives and provide timely services and within budget, all while focusing on the clients’ interests and goals.
Offit Kurman is one of the fastest-growing, full-service law firms in the United States. With over 230 attorneys offering a comprehensive range of services in virtually every legal category, the firm is well-positioned to meet dynamic businesses’ needs, as well as the needs of the people who own and operate them. We also provide representation of individuals and families in diverse matters ranging from estate planning and asset protection to intellectual property structuring and entrepreneurial start-ups. Our International Group provides clients with a broad range of services for transactions and dispute representation for clients worldwide, including Europe, Canada, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa.
At Offit Kurman, we distinguish ourselves by the quality, breadth, and global reach of our legal services — as well as our unique operational structure, which encourages a culture of collaboration and entrepreneurialism. The same approach that makes our firm attractive to legal practitioners interested in representing clients in the middle market, also gives clients access to experienced counsel in almost every area of the law and in many jurisdictions in the U.S. and abroad
Subscribe and follow us on our Blog, and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn. You can also sign up to receive LawMatters, Offit Kurman’s monthly newsletter covering a diverse selection of legal and corporate thought leadership content.
DELAWARE | MARYLAND | NEW JERSEY | NEW YORK | NORTH CAROLINA | PENNSYLVANIA |SOUTH CAROLINA | VIRGINIA | WASHINGTON, DC