Successful Jury Research Project
Chapter One: The Sample
Random sampling is a critical component of the scientific process--in fact, failure to use a random method of juror sampling can invalidate the entire process.
Unfortunately, many firms fail to procure a random sample which produces unreliable results. Common practice within the industry is to place a newspaper ad in the classified section, ask for referrals from participants, use temporary agencies, or worse, Craigslist and the like.
And it's almost impossible to detect, because your mock jury panel will look random. It will look this way because it seems to have a variety of age, gender, ethnicity, etc. But sadly, what you have bought doesn't do what you've bought it for.
Despite superficial appearances, these methods fail to produce a relevant sample of jury eligible citizens. The classifieds, for example, self-select for those actively looking for jobs or wanting to change occupations/employers. They may look random, but they are more likely to be unemployed or underemployed than generally found in the venue, and that may or may not be material. If you use one of these vendors, you won't know.
Random sampling is more time consuming and expensive, but it is unquestionably worth the extra effort and expense. Our jurors are recruited by random phone dialing (WAR dialing), using proprietary call scripts, characteristic quotas, and exclusion policies. Best Evidence does not use classified or online advertising for jurors, does not accept referrals, and we avoid professional jurors, testers and survey-takers.
The sample is the single most important factor in jury research, and until the courts starts placing ads for jurors in newspapers, asking for referrals, or trolling Craigslist, we will continue to randomly sample ours.