I spent the day yesterday, all day, at a focus group. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I went, I was told it was regarding issues facing Lane County. I could have guessed based on the questions they asked to qualify me for the group, but I have been so busy, I didn’t bother to take the time.
So after signing in, I sat in a room as people of various backgrounds, styles of life, styles of dress, age all came in.. we were to be the “jury”. We sat in a conference room listening to 4 different attorneys, 1 for the plaintiff and 3 defendants. A personal injury case. We were then given deliberation instructions and divided into 2 groups (juries) and put in different rooms to make our decision of fault, percentage of fault assigned to each party, if any, and come up with figures for “economic” and “non-economic” damages.
Although it was not a ‘real’ jury trial, our thoughts and decisions will be used by the attorneys to help in the decision to “settle or go to trial”.
It was a fun and worthwhile “adventure”. I made some extra money, they fed us breakfast, lunch & snacks, and (in my opinion) we helped with an important issue. I am upset only by one thing, the money.
A number of people that attended the group were only there because of the money (hey, it’s $175, I understand). I do not condemn them for that, my decision to take a whole day out of my life was also influenced by the money. The bigger picture though was that we were called there to make a difference. I take that as a burden of responsibility. Something to take seriously. Others, it appeared to me anyway, seemed more to have the mindset of “just go along with the group and let’s get paid and get out of here, it’s a beautiful, sunny day outside”. Yes, it was sunny and beautiful outside. Yes, I wanted to get the money and deposit it to my bank account also. But how can you so lightly take the pain and suffering of the individual we were considering and the burden of responsibilities to him and these companies so lightly?!?
In the end, we ‘deliberated’ and came to a close decision. The attorneys will end up with a “general” idea of what a ‘real’ jury would do — and they will get the recordings that will notate the difference of opinions in the room. So, I can let it go and say to myself, I did my dual duty. I can feel good about what I did and justified in the money I ‘earned’.
Have you ever participated in a “mock trial”? Have you ever been on a jury trial? Both? I’d love to hear your opinions on how they turned out – especially if you’ve been on both and can relate the difference.