I’ve received a jury service notice several times in my life, but I’ve never made it through the rest of the process to actually serve on a jury. That’s just fine with me, because it sounds like a major inconvenience, and the last jury notice I received said I would be compensated just $15 for each day in court.
But I have been a “mock juror” for a day. The compensation for my day of mock jury duty was $150 plus snacks, drinks, and a nice lunch. That’s ten times as much as I would have made serving for a day on a real jury.
You may be wondering how you get a gig like that, and I’ll explain below. But first I have to answer the question…
What is a Mock Juror?
A simulated or “mock trial” is used by attorneys to prepare a case prior to the real trial. These events can be arranged (and paid for) by either prosecutors or defense attorneys in criminal cases, and by attorneys for the plaintiffs or defendants in civil cases.
Naturally a mock trial requires a mock jury. When you serve as a mock juror (sometimes called a surrogate juror) you’re presented with testimony and evidence in a manner that’s similar to how it’s done in court. Then you render a verdict and answer a variety of questions.
Your verdict, as well as your comments and analysis, are used by attorneys to see if their case is winnable. This process also helps them get an idea of how much money a jury might award in a civil case, so they can determine an acceptable settlement amount in lieu of a trial.
For example, the jury consultant firm Sign Up Direct says, “Rather than risking everything on the ambiguities of the jury system, we also have found cases often can be settled by bringing the parties before simulated juries in mock trials so they can see how jurors may decide the issues.”
I enjoyed being on a live mock jury, and I recommend it as an interesting experience and as a way to make some extra cash. Serving as an online mock juror is less lucrative (and perhaps not as interesting), but you can do that from home. Let’s Look at both types.
How to Serve as a Mock Juror in a Live Session
In my case an advertisement in a local newspaper directed me to a website. I was asked about my race, income, age, etc. A week later a representative called and gave me the date and place of the trial, and told me it would take all day.
When I arrived I was surprised to see 30 jurors in the hotel conference room where we met. We were moved to another room where we were shown video testimony from actual witnesses, and other evidence. Then we had a nice lunch.
The case involved a lawsuit asking for many millions of dollars, but I can’t say more than that. We all signed a confidentiality agreement, which you should expect in any mock trial situation.
After lunch we heard closing arguments from both sides. Then we were taken to yet another room and divided into groups for deliberations prior to being asked for our verdicts. This was all videotaped (something else you’ll have to agree to).
The process really did take all day — ten hours in fact. At the end we were each handed a check for $150. Several of us asked which side had paid for this, but we were never told.
National Research Staffing is the company that hired me. They also put together focus groups for various research purposes, so if you sign up with them you may be asked to participate in those as well. Payment amounts are not disclosed on the website.
SignupDirect.com is another jury consultant company that hires for these live sessions. They pay $12 per hour and say you’ll “earn at least $100 for one day’s work.”
Other companies, like Nation Legal Research Group. Inc., and Advanced Jury Research, do not provide any apparent way to sign up as a mock juror on their websites. They most likely recruit by advertising as necessary, so watch your local papers for opportunities.
There are also local companies that create mock juries. These are usually marketing consultant businesses that organize focus groups. For example, Focus Groups of Cleveland does mock jury trials in that part of Ohio.
To find these local companies Google the name of your city and “focus groups.” If you find anything relevant, search the company website or call to see if they recruit mock jurors.
The requirements for serving as a surrogate juror vary by jury-consulting company and by case, but here are some common general criteria:
- A U.S. citizen
- Age 18 or older
- No felony record
- Able to read and write in English
- Residence in the same city, zip code, or judicial district as the real case
Live mock trials are expensive. In my case I was one of 30 jurors, each paid $150. Then there was the cost of the conference rooms, lunch, and ten hours of time for each of several lawyers and jury consultants. My guess is that this mock trial cost the client at least $15,000.
Because of that high cost of doing it live, it’s more common to present a case to a mock jury online, which brings us to…
How to Serve as a Mock Juror Online
The bad news is that you’ll make less for each case when serving as a mock juror online instead of in person. In fact, some companies pay as little as $10 per case.
The good news is that it may take you less than an hour to review a case and render a verdict, and you can do it from the privacy of your home. Typically you will not have to discuss the case with other jurors.
Both criminal and civil cases are possible, and the methods used by each “e-jury” company will vary. You may have to watch videos, read through transcripts, review photos, answer questions, and so on.
Where do you find gigs as an “e-juror?” Here are a few options, starting with the one that appears to pay the most money for your time…
Online Verdict – Reviewing a case (and providing feedback) for Online Verdict takes from 20 to 60 minutes “depending on the length of the case summary and the number of attorney-provided questions.” Based on their estimate of how long it will take, they pay you from $20 to $60 per case. The exact amount “will be noted in the email invitation you receive.” They send you a check a week or two after you review the case.
Virtual Jury – Pay is not noted on the website, but checks are mailed out within two weeks of participation in their online focus group.
Resolution Research – This company doesn’t specify how much they pay, and they are also an online survey company, so you’ll be signing up for that as well. Since I’ve yet to figure a way to make even $3 per hour with online surveys, I would just ignore any emails related to those.
EJury – Although eJury says jurors reviewing a six-page case average just 35 minutes to complete the task, they pay just $5 to $10 per case. They do show the amount before you begin, so you can at least skip the $5 cases. Payment is via PayPal.
Jury Test – Payment ranges from $5 to $50 depending on the length and complexity of the cases you review. You can opt for a check or payment by PayPal.
The Rest of the Story
As mentioned, each company has it’s own rules and qualifications or disqualifications. For example, some exclude you if you’re in any way related to an attorney. Others will exclude you if you’ve been involved in a similar case or in any kind of a lawsuit.
Also, because these gigs are most common where court cases are most common, you probably won’t find much work as a mock juror if you live in a small town in Wyoming. This is true even with online mock jury work, because it’s common practice to select jurors who live in area where the real trial will take place.
You chances of being selected are best if you live in a large city, or at least in a county that contains a large city.
On the other hand, if you live in an isolated area, why not sign up to be a mock juror anyhow? After all, once in awhile even a small town can have a big case that requires preparation in the form of a mock trial. And none of the jury consulting firms mentioned charges you anything to be put on their list of potential jurors.
If you’ve served on a mock jury, tell us about your experience below… and keep on frugaling!