They are performed even more frequently in anticipation and support of a motion for a change of venue. Reliable data can establish an empirical basis for the identification of high-risk jurors and measure community bias. These surveys:
- Evaluate relevant attitudes and opinions among jury-eligible residents of a trial venue
- Provide valid and reliable information about community opinions on key case issues, themes, or strategies
- Establish an empirical basis for the identification of high-risk jurors
- Measure community bias and prejudice to assess support for a change of venue motion
- Surveys can be employed in conjunction with a media analysis to provide a solid basis for expert testimony or an affidavit on enhanced conditions of voir dire, change of venue, or other judicial remedies for bias and prejudice in the jury pool
Jury-eligible individuals in the trial venue are randomly selected and interviewed. The interview protocol uses a series of open-ended and closed-ended questions designed to elicit candid expressions of belief and attitude toward the parties and case issues. Survey responses are then coded and subjected to statistical analysis to evaluate the extent and strength of case-related community attitudes. When a change of venue is at issue, a two-venue study is recommended so that the attitudes in two venues can be compared to demonstrate a remedy for bias in the trial venue. In anticipation of a motion for change of venue, a community attitude survey should be performed during discovery and motion practice. When performed to assist counsel in jury selection, a community attitude survey is usually conducted within several weeks of trial in order to measure public opinion resulting from any significant pre-trial publicity.
When performed to assist in jury selection, results are reported in the form of a written report to counsel. The report contains a jury selection profile along with suggested voir dire topic areas. When performed in connection with a change of venue motion, results are usually reported in the form of an affidavit in support of the motion for change of venue.
Role of counsel
Counsel is asked to provide Tsongas with case materials, press and media files and materials related to case issues and public opinion. Counsel is also asked to review the survey to assure the inclusion of key issues.