Big data companies have been collecting and mining public and quasi-public information about consumer, financial, health, political, and personal interests of most Americans for years.
Data mining and predictive modeling provides a scientific process that leverages the statistical analysis of known demographic groups to provide reliable predictions as to how representative sections of the population will respond to a set of facts. It has taken proven methodologies used in other industries and applied them to the legal field.
But the legal industry has been painfully slow to adapt the practice of data mining and predictive modeling. As a result, billions of bits of personal information on the general public that’s routinely stored in ever growing databases has gone unused by the law profession. Big data is proving to be invaluable when it comes to jury selection.
Until recently, the big data was generally used only by jury consultants or large law firms with the access to the data and the resources to mine it. More and more these vast amounts of data are being recognized as an opportunity to acquire information on potential jurors that was previously unavailable.
A Trial’s Outcome Is Often Determined Before It Begins
Lawyers traditionally picked jurors based on what they could observe — race, gender, age, body language. Often this was the only information lawyers definitively knew about the jury panel.
This resulted in a jury selection system that:
- Failed to create a representative cross-section of the community
- Encouraged the discriminatory use of peremptory challenges
- Resulted in an unacceptably high juror “no show” rate
- Disproportionately disadvantaged litigants and defendants who could not afford to hire jury consultants
Big data mining has the potential to remedy many of these existing limitations and inequities – allowing for highly personalized, current, and targeted information for locating qualified jurors in any jurisdiction.
The availability and use of precise algorithms to provide personally targeted data in real-time provides more representative jury venires. This collected personal data also can be quite revealing about attitudes, inclinations, and interests.
For litigants and defendants, this means the availability of information that could once only be available from expensive jury consultants is now available all parties – revolutionizing and democratizing how jury panels are selected.
Pluses of Big Data and Predictive Modeling
Using the power of big data and predictive modeling allows attorneys to get detailed, statistically significant information about possible jurors and how they are likely to respond to issues, topics, witnesses and concepts of any given case.
Risks of Big Data and Predictive Modeling
The adoption of big data technology carries real risks. Among them:
- invasion of privacy issues that could result in significant backlash against jury service
- constitutional concerns of equal protection, especially in regards race, gender or ethnicity
- practical, theoretical, and constitutional dilemmas about jurors
Fair and Impartial Jurors
Many lawyers are afraid of the jury. They’re fear missing the one person in the jury pool who may have a hidden bias against their case. As a result, they select jurors based on a gut reaction or their own experience.
With the advent of big data and predictive modeling, it’s statistically possible to identify the potentially biased jurors that might destroy your case. Ignore that information at your peril!
Nothing can guarantee a favorable result in trial. But statistically valid information is proving to be a game changer. But there can be no doubt that the use of big data analytics has created a powerful tool for litigators.
At the very least, every lawyer will need to understand the basics of big data and predictive modeling.If you’re not using big data and predictive analytics in you trial preparations, you’re already behind your competition.