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More: Crime Law and Order Trayvon Martin

George Zimmerman's Lawyers Can't Talk About Trayvon Martin's Pot Use In Court

PAMELA ENGEL MAY 28, 2013, 12:28 PM 1,162 18

A judge ruled today that much of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin's past — including his pot use and school suspensions — will be likely inadmissible at trial.
But George Zimmerman's defense team has already released photos and text messages from Martin's cellphone. Litigation psychologist Amy Singer tells us that move was meant to expose potential jurors to as much information as possible before trial.

"It shows how intelligent they are," Singer said about Zimmerman's defense team. "If they were smart they'd pick people … who have read and heard everything and say 'I think [Zimmerman] is innocent.'"

Zimmerman — who is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Martin — and his attorney Mark O'Mara have been openly discussing the case on the Internet, on television and in in-depth newspaper interviews.

At a hearing Tuesday morning, a judge denied the state's motion for a gag order in the case.

Despite O'Mara's apparent willingness to release much information to the public via a website about the case, he expressed concern that a jury might not be able to hear the case "without outside influence" and moved to sequester the jury pool. That request was denied.

"The big challenge now is going to be jurors facing a lynch-mob mentality," Singer said.

Martin family lawyer Benjamin Crump accused O'Mara of "polluting the jury pool" by releasing information on Martin's past.

A judge also ruled Tuesday that:

The defense cannot bring up Martin's past marijuana use, school suspensions or fights at trial without clearing "several legal hurdles."

  • The defense cannot mention during opening arguments that traces of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, were found in Martin's system.
  • The jury will not be allowed to visit the scene of the crime.

The trial will not be delayed, as the defense requested, and will begin June 10.

Jurors in the case will not be named during the trial, and reporters won't be allowed to photograph them.


Trayvon Martin Case 2.0:
Digital Trial Before Jury

George Zimmerman: Defense enters Twitter, Facebook conversation

By Jeff Weiner, Orlando Sentinel

6:55 p.m. EST, April 30, 2012

Usually, when a teenager is shot in Central Florida, the people of Los Angeles, New York or London don't take to the streets, as they did to protest the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

But Twitter carried the teen's name across the globe. Social media turned a shooting in Sanford into a rallying cry, and helped organize a popular uprising that spread like wildfire. Since, each new development has been analyzed and deconstructed by thousands online.

Now, defense attorneys for George Zimmerman, the Neighborhood Watch volunteer charged in the teen's death, have entered the virtual conversation. In an unusual move, Mark O'Mara has started a blog and accompanying Twitter and Facebook accounts to communicate directly with the public.

"This is a brilliant move on his part," says Amy Singer, a Gainesville-based trial consultant. By engaging the public online, "you get a lot of comments, a lot of perspectives, a lot of discussion."

And Singer should know: During the Casey Anthony trial, she analyzed more than 40,000 tweets and comments for Anthony's defense, gauging the public's reaction to various arguments and tactics.

Because thousands of people give their opinions unsolicited through social media, services like Twitter can put a defense team in the enviable position of being "a fly on the wall," Singer said, monitoring how people react to each twist and turn.

O'Mara, she said, has just taken the next logical step. By creating a Facebook and Twitter profile, "all that they're doing is joining in the conversation" already taking place online.

On the blog,, O'Mara's firm acknowledges it is "unusual" to "maintain a social media presence on behalf of a defendant."

"First, we contend that social media in this day and age cannot be ignored," the site says. "We feel it would be irresponsible to ignore the robust online conversation, and we feel equally as strong about establishing a professional, responsible, and ethical approach to new media."

The website has a blog-style format, with posts in reverse chronological order. The Twitter account, @GzlegalCase, has been used to tweet links to blog posts and discredit imitators. On Facebook, Zimmerman's defense solicited reader input on the subject of $200,000 in donations Zimmerman gathered through his original website. More than 300 people have responded.

O'Mara did not respond to numerous requests for comment.

Hemu Nigam, an Internet-safety expert and former Los Angeles deputy district attorney, said social media has given everyday people caught in high-profile controversies the opportunity to control their message in a way that used to require a public relations firm.

"What you can now do, even if you are a person on the street, is try to own the facts," Nigam said.

You can also influence people's opinions. Nigam described social media as the water-cooler of the 21st century — except unlike the office oasis, anyone can enter the conversation.

Kevin O'Keefe is a Seattle-based former lawyer and CEO of LexBlog, a company that specializes in helping lawyers develop "powerful Internet identities" through social media. He also writes about social media issues in his blog, "Real Lawyers Have Blogs."

O'Keefe said the transition to social media is an evolution: In the past, if an attorney wanted to bolster his client, "you'd go out and talk to the media," but now, people look elsewhere for information.

"They're going to get it through people they trust — via Facebook, via Twitter," he said.

But will the Zimmerman defense be allowed to keep tweeting? Nigam said the prosecution in the case may argue for the judge to halt the social media outreach through a gag order.

In fact, Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda has already filed a motion asking Seminole Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester to prohibit lawyers associated with the case from talking about the facts or evidence or giving opinions in the media. Lester decided against ruling on the motion in a hearing last week.

The Florida Bar has social networking guidelines, but they're mostly tailored to regulate advertising. The Bar also prohibits public statements of any kind which "the lawyer knows or reasonably should know … will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing" a judicial proceeding.

Michael Grieco, a South Florida defense attorney and former Miami-Dade prosecutor, said the concept of soliciting public input before a trial, particularly one with high stakes, isn't new.

"You can only talk to so many lawyers," Grieco said. "You want to be able to talk to John Q. Public."

In big-money lawsuits, for example, legal teams sometimes conduct full-on mock trials to test their arguments on, essentially, a practice jury.

"All he's doing is trial research" in a new way, Grieco said. "On some level, I applaud him for it."

So, what could Zimmerman's lawyers glean through Facebook and Twitter? Singer, though not currently working for either the state or defense, said she's been analyzing online activity in the Zimmerman case.

Currently, she said, "the big issue for Zimmerman is his credibility."

She specifically cited the more than $200,000 he collected in donations, but failed to mention — either on the stand or through his lawyer — during a bond hearing, in which his family claimed he is broke.

Through social media, the public can react during every hearing and after every new revelation. The online fallout, Singer says, could reveal how a jury would respond to the facts of the case.

"Who do they relate to?" she said. "Do they relate to (Trayvon) Martin, or do they relate to Zimmerman?"

Rene Stutzman of the Sentinel staff contributed to this report. or 407-420-5171

Copyright © 2012, Orlando Sentinel

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DISCLAIMER: In no way did I or anyone on my team through any medium suggest what the defense to the charges was or should be and to the extent anyone is representing that I or my team created the defense they are simply wrong.

Casey Anthony: Mark NeJame says, 'My analysis was dead on and the jury's wasn't'
Caylee and Casey Anthony, WKMG — posted by halboedeker on October, 24 2011 7:39 AM

Mark NeJame delivered analysis for WKMG-Channel 6 during the Casey Anthony trial. Photo credit: George Skene/Orlando Sentinel

We're revisiting the local legal analysts from the Casey Anthony trial. What stood out for them? What did viewers tell them? What did the exposure do for their practices in Central Florida?
Mark NeJame was an energetic presence on WKMG-Channel 6. He also appeared on national programs and frequently worked seven days a week providing commentary. He delivered passionate commentary, and the passion hasn't died.

Q. Why did you want to do the analysis?

A. "I do analysis a lot for a lot of cases. This one was the largest case going on in the country. I was getting 2,500 inquires a day via emails, Facebook and tweets. People were very fascinated. They understand we were straight-shooters. I thought it was important to get the truth out as I understood it to be, and there was an interested public thirsting for information."

Q. What did you get from the experience?

A. "This is unlike anything I've experienced in my career. It was the first case where it was interactive with the public, locally, nationally and internationally. People were in real time asking questions, wanting to know what's going on. It was so different from the O.J. Simpson case. This was running across who knows how many television outlets. Newspapers had gone to Internet reporting and commentators blogging in real time. When the history is written, this case will stand out to shepherd in this new universal form of broadcasting high-profile trials."

Q. What was the most memorable moment for you?

A. "So many. The thing about the case, it seemed like every day there was a new chapter that emerged with the story. It was important for me to never lose sight it was about a dead child who I believe was murdered by her mother. Then you have all these other characters. It made for a riveting storyline that people followed. You'd hear them complain about following it, but they were following it.

"It was reality TV in its purist form. Many people were outraged over the way it unfolded. This was not a typical trial. When do you see a promise made in opening statement and never addressed in trial and there's an acquittal? That just doesn't happen. Credibility is everything. You make promises to a jury, you're expected to keep them. To argue it's a circumstantial case, almost every murder case is a circumstantial case. Most crimes occur in secret."

Q. Anything you would have done differently?

A. "I think my analysis was dead on and the jury's wasn't. But I accept it and move on from it. I think that, in retrospect, if the prosecution had to do it over again, they would have emphasized her behavior for 31 days and less the forensic evidence, which was apparently too complex for the jury. With that said, I think the state overall did a great job.

"I did get a small measure of criticism from a couple of people: How could I have taken a pro-prosecution stand when I'm a defense attorney? If I'm not providing the defense, I can comment. Who's going to support crime?

"I wanted Casey Anthony to have the best defense team, but I thought the evidence was very strong against her. The jury consultant on the defense team is the unsung hero of that whole defense team. The choosing of that jury in light of this evidence was masterful as it pertains to the jury consultant. That made a believer out of me in jury consultants. I've never used a jury consultant. But in the future if I have the right case, I would use a jury consultant on the right case."

Q. What do you think the analysis did for the law?

A. "I think that the public understands much better the way the system works and the ways in which it's broken. I probably have well over a thousand letters from people who appreciated learning how the system works. Cameras in the courtroom are relatively new. Here it was in everybody's office or reception area. Everyone was watching it. It gave them an education on rules of evidence, on burden of proof. All these areas were introduced to everybody. It was a terrific education.

"Just like watching a law TV show, this is not a common case. This is not the way cases normally occur. The way the case unfolded, the attention it got is not typical. One can't fault the judge. [Chief Judge Belvin] Perry ran as tight of a courtroom as people could have hoped for. The cocktail of individuals that created this case, I think, one would be hard pressed to duplicate ever again."

Q. Did you have a memorable reaction from the public?

A. "People approached me constantly. I've never seen anything like this. People were completely enthralled by this. I had an inactive Twitter. It was announced I was on Twitter, and I had 11,000 followers."

Q. Did you get more clients because of the exposure?

A. "I always gauge those things. Typically when you're handling a high-profile case, there's no immediate effect. But over time, people get to know you and like you and respect you. More people come to you because they like the way you handle things. Last year was a record year. Every year we continue to break records. But it's hard to gauge.

"You don't know if it's directly attributable [to exposure on TV]. If you become a household name, more people will be following you. I would say it's a constant progression, but no different than we've been experiencing over the past few years. We've done record business in the recession."

Wrong Way
Technology and people can crash during trials. How to recover from (and prevent) disasters.

Robyn Weisman All Articles
Law Technology NewsOctober 01, 2011

Illustration: Sean McCabe

None of the news reports about the Roger Clemens perjury trial mentioned anything about failed technology. The prosecution was able to play the videotape that showed U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings reading an affidavit of Laura Pettitte, the wife of Clemens' former baseball teammate, Andy Pettitte, without a hitch.

The problem: Prosecutor Steven Durham had been told during motions in limine that Ms. Pettitte's testimony was hearsay and, therefore, inadmissible. As a result, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton declared a mistrial; the retrial is set for April 17.

"Something like this should never happen," said SNR Denton partner Glenn Colton, who heads the firm's U.S. white collar and government investigations practice, in an interview with The National Law Journal . "In a high-profile case or not, prosecutors need to be vigilant, going over evidence to make sure it's proper and admissible."

Human and technological snafus are inevitable, say practitioners. "Murphy's Law is rule number one in technology," says J. Craig Williams, a partner at Sedgwick, based in its Orange County, Calif., office. He experienced a courtroom technology crisis when his only hard drive crashed during a preliminary hearing. "I lost all of my documents, and I didn't have paper copies because they would have filled up the courtroom," remembers Williams, a member of LTN 's Editorial Advisory Board. "Because I did not bring a backup hard drive or computer, the court had to suspend the proceedings for that day." He now brings the equivalent of "a mobile law firm" to every trial.

Fredric Lederer, chancellor professor of law and director of the Center for Legal and Court Technology and Legal Skills at William & Mary Law School, says there are three types of trial technology snafus: 1) real or perceived hardware failure, 2) real or perceived software failure, and 3) attorney ineptitude. Hardware failure is the least common cause of technology derailment — fried hard drives and light bulbs notwithstanding.

In contrast, software error is "almost guaranteed," says Lederer, also on LTN 's board. Microsoft's ubiquitous software seems to often trigger mishaps: "Every reader understands that Windows periodically screws up." For example, "imagine you're doing an opening statement, and you're accessing images on your computer — when all of a sudden Windows goes into an update, [which] can take awhile."

Sometimes, trial teams alienate jurors by poorly using software that is working perfectly. Williams recalls a trial where opposing counsel used a PowerPoint presentation that was 146 slides and 2½ hours long: "Nobody paid attention to it."

Lack of communication within the trial team also can generate a plethora of technology-related problems, says Williams, who once attended an arbitration where opposing counsel's technologist pulled up a document and put it on the screen. "I hadn't seen it before, and it was a smoking gun. I was able to get it produced and entered into evidence. The attorney got sanctioned for it, [which] really hurt his case."

Litigators can severely damage cases by misinterpreting data generated by trial technology. During the Florida trial of Casey Anthony, accused of murdering her 2-year-old daughter Caylee by dosing her with chloroform and suffocating her with duct tape, prosecutors put forth evidence that the defendant had searched the web 84 times for information on chloroform.

At issue was the prosecution's use of SiQuest's Cacheback software to retrieve web browsing history files from unallocated space on Anthony's household computer. "Aside from the problem of proving that it was Casey Anthony at the computer conducting the searches, the prosecution failed to translate the technological findings in a manner that might sway a jury," observed LTN associate editor Michael Roach in an LTN commentary ( He cited blog posts from Keith Jones criticizing "testimony from SiQuest CEO John Bradley that was far from user-friendly, and mired in jargon, such as 'primary key database value,' 'houses the decoded results,' 'Universal Resource Locator,' or 'web address which relates to the record entry.' " Observed Roach: "Jones demonstrates how a simple PowerPoint slide presentation detailing what a Google search for what 'neck breaking' looks like might have much more easily held the jury's interest."

Amy Singer, president of Florida's Trial Consultants, says social media was key to winning the Anthony case. Hired by the defense, her team sampled bloggers and discussion groups that were monitoring the trial, and concluded that the more computer-savvy observers shared a general consensus that there was no way Anthony searched for chloroform 84 times."[She] searched for chloroform once, and not even how to make chloroform, but 'What is chloroform?' " says Singer.

During the trial, her team monitored a wide range of social media, including Twitter, Facebook, blogs, chat and discussion rooms — analyzing about 1 million comments daily. "Social media made a huge difference," she says. "It drove the demonstrative evidence. It drove the court's examination." For example, as inconsistencies occured with testimony from and about Casey's father, "we knew how to hit hard," she explains.

In essense, Singer's team used social media the same way some litigators use a shadow jury — to monitor emotional responses to trial stimuli and provide immediate feedback on testimony, says Christine Martin, a New York-based jury and social media consultant. When people reacted negatively to witnesses, the defense team could tailor its strategy, she said.

"It's hard to know to what degree social media swayed the jury, as opposed to lack of evidence from the prosecution or the color of the suit the prosecutor was wearing, but [this case] definitely put social media on the map — and it will be an important piece in trials going forward," says Martin.

Florida's Legal Graphicworks provided exhibit support for the defense. Vice president Tyler Benson says the case was so information-intensive that he and president Jim Lucas created timelines on seven-foot-long boards to help Anthony's lawyer, Jose Baez, discuss chronology with the jury.

The worst situation he and Lucas experienced happened in another case, when they inadvertently ran two versions of inData's TrialDirector. "One of the computers we were going to use that day was acting a little erratically, and our backup computer was using the older version of the software, which didn't support the video formats we were using to play back some deposition footage," Benson recalls.

During a 15-minute break, they ran a test but still couldn't get the video to play. They ultimately discovered that the older version ran on a 32-bit platform, not the 64-bit platform of the upgrade. They solved the crisis by reverting to the older version using a backup computer. Once back in their offices, they made adjustments so the new iteration worked properly on their computers. "That was a nail-biter to say the least — until we figured out what the problem was," Benson says.

Attorney David Sparks, of California's George & Shields, recalls a case where he had visited the courthouse ahead of the trial to test his technology, and everything had worked perfectly. But once in the courtroom, when he clicked on his remote, nothing happened. "The way I had stuck my remote in my bag [caused] it to push on the button that handles the laser, so it had drained out the batteries," he recalls. "The slide didn't advance, and I looked like a dork."

Sparks' response to the snafu? "I pretended like there was nothing wrong. I just walked over to the podium, started tapping the spacebar [on my Mac], and went through the presentation." Today, he carries extra batteries in addition to all the other backup equipment he had at the ready.

In today's environment of smartphones, YouTube, and Twitter, not using technology may be worse than making a mistake with those technologies. But some attorneys still worry that courtroom technology might alienate jurors.

That was the case when M. Gerald Schwartzbach took over the defense of Robert Blake in 2004, when the actor was charged with murdering his wife. A jury consultant had recommended a trial technologist, but Schwartzbach had reservations.

"I was concerned about the perception that we would be using fancy gadgets to buy [Blake's] way out of the case," recalls Schwartzbach, who practices in Mill Valley, Calif.

Moreover, Schwartzbach was scrambling to get ready for a trial date that had been set before he had taken over the case — and he had never, up to this point, used technology in trial.

The jury consultant recommended California-based Litigation-Tech. CEO Ted Brooks (a member of LTN 's board) demonstrated how trial technology could enhance a presentation, persuading Schwartzbach to give it a shot.

The team created two databases in Summation (now owned by AccessData) — one for documents and the other for photos. Then they used LexisNexis' LoadFile Pro to convert the two Summation databases into one database within TrialDirector — to hold everything from pretrial documents to Blake's " 20/20" interview with journalist Barbara Walters.

"The most significant part of our defense had to do with gunshot residue tests, which could have been really boring," recalls Schwartzbach. "But we were able [to show] what the testimony really meant by putting it in lay language and showing photographs and graphs. It made the testimony more interesting and kept jurors from falling asleep."

Apparently the jury listened ­— after the "not guilty" verdict was announced, the foreman told reporters that they couldn't put the gun in Blake's hands. Says Schwartzbach: "The foreman was talking about the gunshot residue."

Periodically Schwartzbach meets potential clients who insinuate that Blake was guilty — and because Schwartzbach got him acquitted, that their case will be a piece of cake in comparison.

"I have to make sure they understand I am a lawyer," he says, "not a magician."


It's inevitable: You will experience trial technology failure at some point during your career. But just as you can sometimes control a skid (with preparation and a dash of luck), you can keep your presentation on path with effective steering. Some driving tips:

1. Assume that you and your team are at fault: "Lawyers have a tendency to blame the courtroom when something doesn't work," says Fredric Lederer. He recalls a trial where a litigator could not get a video to run, and implicated the courtroom.

"The bailiff walks over to the attorney, hits two keys to toggle the video out of the computer into the courtroom system, and smiles broadly when [the video] comes up instantaneously," Lederer says. The bailiff got cheers. The lawyer lost credibility.

2. Know your judge and jury: Attorney J. Craig Williams recommends talking to the judge before the trial starts, to assess his or her technology comfort level. "There is no sense in walking into the courtroom and have the judge say, 'You're not using that here.' Then you've spent tens of thousands of dollars on all this technology you can't use."

"Humor, especially self-deprecating humor, works when it works. When it doesn't, it's awful," says U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Peck. Mistakes can alienate both the judge and jury, especially if they interpret the snafu as evidence a lawyer is not prepared. Then, "the jury feels their time is being wasted," says Peck.

Judges may be more understanding, "although the degree may be buffered by the amount of goodwill you've built prior to the failure. If it's the same lawyer who has missed two court conferences, has regularly been 15-20 minutes late every day, they'll probably have a lot less in the favor bank from the court than the lawyer who is always prepared, on-time, and courteous."

3. Don't be afraid to show your vulnerability: Robert Owen, a partner at Sutherland Asbill & Brennan, says that mistakes often can be opportunities to show the jury that you are human. "While you want the jury to see you as someone in whom they can entrust their loyalties, no one is perfect, and mistakes happen," says Owen. When mistakes occur, "be natural, own it, correct it, and move on in a brisk professional way," says Owen. "Handle it gracefully, and you're fine."

4. Be professional — and flexible: John Cleaves, supervisor of trial technology consulting at Latham & Watkins, quelled a litigation-support disaster with a mixture of competence, grace, and humor.

A client called demanding that Cleaves fire a freelance technologist because he had forgotten to kill the electronic feed for his solitaire card game, which showed up on the judge's monitor.

"The judge showed the game in progress and said, 'I don't know who is playing solitaire during this trial, but it needs to stop now. Not only that, but whoever it is, they are really bad at the game.' "

"'So he didn't get the whole red king, black queen, red jack thing?' " I asked the attorney, and he smirked," Cleaves recalled.

Then Cleaves resolved the problem by taking over the technology for the remainder of the trial.


Who should be in charge of overseeing your trial technology? Ultimately, the decision will depend on the complexity of the trial and of the technology, and the attorneys' comfort in using the technology. Tips from our experts:

If possible, lawyers should handle the technology personally, "because you can change your presentation on the fly and don't have any problems coordinating with whoever is assisting you," says Fredric Lederer.

David Sparks manages his own technology. "I like going to trial and having three or four attorneys on the other side and then having just me on my side with my Mac," he says.

Craig Williams recommends having a trusted associate or paralegal,who is extremely familiar with both your case and the technology being used. "Don't ever try to do an examination or an opening and closing statement and run the technology at the same time."


Back-up, back-up, back-up: computers, software, e-data, and even basic hardware.

Checklists: List every item you could possibly need, then have a colleague double-check the roster.

Practice makes perfect: Visit your courtroom at least a week before the trial date. Rehearse using the technology you plan to use.

Be not afraid: If, despite all your preparation, something malfunctions, take a deep breath. Juries and judges are more likely to give you wiggle room when you're calm — and you'll be able to fix the problem more quickly if your emotions are under control. They might even empathize!

Robyn Weisman (e-mail: is a freelance reporter, based in Los Angeles.

From Conrad Murray to Casey Anthony, how social media is impacting jury selection and trial strategy KPCC 3

Richard Drew/AFP/Getty Images
Trial consultants are now using data collected from social media sites like Facebook and Twitter


The manslaughter trial of Michael Jackson's personal doctor, Conrad Murray, streamed live from the courtroom Tuesday. Increasingly social media sites and the blogosphere are crowded with opinions about every twist and turn in the case. Legal experts say those comments are expected to influence the way the defense and prosecution make their cases to the jury.

Trial observer Diana Greninger researches trial strategies at Trial Consultants Inc. and told KPCC's Patt Morrison on Tuesday that social media will only be one aspect of the lawyer's strategy.

"It's not by any means to be used 100 percent for the strategy. It just guides us as to, you know, what we should focus on, what people like to see, what bores them, what entices them, what makes them lean one way or the other, which is what the jurors are actually gonna do," she said.

Greninger added that attorneys should take online comments with a grain of salt, since the public only sees a small portion of the evidence that jurors do.


What do you think, does social media impact how you see the case? Should lawyers use it as part of their strategy?

Karen North, director, USC's Annenberg Program on Online Communities

Diana Greninger, research director, Trial Consultants Inc., a trial consulting firm

Shepard Kopp, criminal defense attorney; has worked on high profile trials of Michael Jackson, Winona Ryder, Scott Peterson, Chris Brown, and more

Dr. Amy Singer featured on the HLN's Issues

Watch the feature on CNN / HLN Issues with Jane Valez Mitchell

Casey Anthony Acquitted

July 5, 2011

On behalf of the entire strategy team at Trial Consultants, Inc.®, we congratulate our clients Jose Baez and his co-counsel for their victory in the acquittal of Casey Anthony on the major charges.

It was a privilege and a pleasure to work with the defense team on this case.

Amy Singer, Ph.D.

Publicity: More on Dr. Singer's work on the Casey Anthony trial.

From Akron Legal
July 28, 2011

Social media consulting becomes part of trial strategy

Bethany Krajelis

With a few clicks of her mouse and some serious help from social media, the trial consultant for Casey Anthony's defense team discovered what thousands of people were thinking about the case within mere seconds of sharing their thoughts.

Whether it was bloggers talking about how the woman accused of murdering her 2-year-old daughter looked better wearing pastels or regular folks sharing their opinions about her parents in less than 140 characters on Twitter, Florida-based trial consultant Amy Singer said she utilized various forms of social media to give Anthony's lawyers an inside and almost instantaneous look into how the public was perceiving the lawyers, witnesses, evidence and of course, Anthony.

"We were getting reactions to everything," she said. "It was unbelievable to see the things people were reacting to."

Singer said she and her team of consultants started using social media to track the case when jury selection began in May. They continued to track the case throughout the trial, gathering the reactions of the more than 40,000 people who logged on to these social media sites to share their opinions about the case that captivated the nation this summer.

"It's like a focus group," Singer said, explaining that her team would analyze the bevy of blog posts, Facebook mentions, discussion forums and Tweets about the case before providing an analysis to Anthony's defense lawyers, who would then determine how, or if, the information would effect their trial strategy.

After several weeks of trial on a case that dates back to the disappearance of Caylee Anthony more than three years ago, a Florida jury found Anthony not guilty of murdering her daughter earlier this month.

While it's difficult to gauge whether Singer's work played a role in the outcome of the case, several trial consultants, lawyers and law professors say the way she applied social media to Anthony's trial marks a new phase in the social media phenomenon.

Alan Tuerkheimer, a litigation consultant with Zagnoli, McEvoy, Foley LLC in Chicago, said his firm has used social media at the jury selection stage of trial, but never used it in the way Singer did.
He said he's not sure whether Singer's approach would be useful in all trials, but it's likely to catch on in high profile cases.
"People aren't going to be tweeting about the majority of trials, but when it comes to high profile cases, I think it's going to become something more and more firms do," he said of Singer's social media strategy.

After all, Tuerkheimer said, the use of social media is not completely new to the legal profession. He said since the popularity of social media sites exploded a few years ago, it has not been uncommon for trial consultants to peek at potential jurors' Web presence to get a picture of their personalities.
"Most of the information is not useful, but if you can see how people disclose information it gives you some insight into their personality and how comfortable they are expressing their opinions," he said. "Social media has definitely changed the way [trial consultants] do our job, but it's just an additional factor that yields information to an existing body."
Tuerkheimer said the information obtained through social media sites should be taken with a grain of salt. Jurors, he said, are probably more comfortable sitting at home in their pajamas updating their Facebook pages than sharing their honest opinions with 11 other people on a jury.
"I think you have to remind yourself that it's just one other source of information, he said. "You can't blindly rely on it."

Singer agreed. She said her team of consultants combed through thousands of peoples' opinions about Anthony on dozens of social media sites to separate "the nuts from the useful information." She offered what she could and then let Anthony's lawyers determine if they would use it.
Singer said the most useful information her team gathered while tracking Anthony's case online was the public's reaction to Anthony's father, George, who allegedly had a mistress. She said the defense team ended up beefing up their questions against him on the stand, something she said may have made the jurors doubt his honesty.

J. Steven Beckett, the director of the trial advocacy program at the University of Illinois College of Law, said as "an old man," he has been amazed to see how social media has effected the legal profession over the years.
A few years ago, Beckett said he was impressed to learn that employers were using social media sites to get an idea of how potential employees presented themselves on the Web. Regardless of that, Beckett said he was still surprised to see how frequently trials are discussed on these sites.

For instance, when former Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich faced his first trial on corruption charges, Beckett said he followed a blog to get the most up-to-date coverage.
Details about his second trial, however, could be followed on Twitter, where reporters shared everything from what the governor was wearing that day to what witnesses were saying as the trial was literally taking place.
Blagojevich's attorney, Sheldon Sorosky , did not return a message seeking comment on whether the ousted governor's defense team tracked his case on social media sites. Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall Arthur Samborn, who serves as the office's public information officer, declined to comment for this story, saying that Blagojevich's case is still pending.
Now that Beckett has seen how the popularity of social media sites is making its way into trials, he said he thinks its something lawyers are going to want to use to their advantage.
"Lawyers like to keep control of everything related to their trial, their clients and their witnesses," Beckett said. "They want to keep control. And when you have something like social media becoming so popular, it becomes something they need to pay attention to."
Philip K. Anthony, chief executive officer for DecisionQuest, agreed. He said his nationwide trial consulting firm currently uses social media as a jury research tool.

Like Tuerkheimer, Anthony said trial consultants frequently look at potential jurors' Web presence. He said social media is also a great way to survey individuals on a particular matter in a relatively quick fashion.
"The Twitter tool is a good one because most jurors today, and particularly the younger jurors, no longer view the walls around the courtroom as something that is confining them," he said. "They used to go into trial and listen to the judge when he said not to read any newspapers or talk to anyone about the case. But, what has shifted today is that jurors feel quite comfortable and in fact, compelled to leave the courtroom and do all those things."
Jurors, he said, frequently go onto a company's website to do research before they hear testimony. They might look for discussion forums about the company or even ask their friends on Facebook for their take on the case that they will soon decide on.

Doing research on what sites jurors are going to and what kind of information they might find is something that Anthony, of DecisionQuest, said has become "a normal part of our practice" as trial consultants.

While his firm may not typically go as far as the trial consultants in the Casey Anthony case did, he said he doesn't doubt Singer's methods will be utilized by the nation's trial consultants in high profile cases in the near future.

Singer said more trial consultants will follow in her footsteps, especially as technology advances and the popularity of social media sites continue to grow.

"I can't believe I was the first one to do this," Singer said. "It doesn't take a genius to figure out."

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Casey Anthony: How social media tweaked defense strategy

Amy Singer, a Fort Lauderdale based jury consultant and psychologist,

July 13, 2011|By Walter Pacheco, Orlando Sentinel

A consultant for Casey Anthony's attorneys analyzed more than 40,000 highly-charged opinions — negative and positive — on social media sites and blogs, and used them to help the defense craft their trial strategy.

Whether it worked or not is difficult to gauge, but a jury last week found Casey Anthony not guilty of murdering her 2-year-old daughter Caylee Marie.

"When bloggers and others in social media sites started to attack George Anthony about his alleged mistress, the defense team beefed up their questions against him," said Fort Lauderdale-based consultant Amy Singer. "None of the bloggers ever changed their minds about him."

The innovative pro-bono tactic by Singer shows how social media sites like Facebook and Twitter could revolutionize the way lawyers defend their clients, especially in highly-publicized cases like the Casey Anthony murder trial.

"This is the first time I have heard of this kind of consulting for a trial and it's incredible," said Florida A&M University professor Shiv Persaud. "It definitely might become a part of my curriculum in trial practice. We could benefit from a new type of tool we didn't have before."

Every day of the trial, Singer and her revolving team of at least five people scanned thousands of tweets, Facebook posts and messages from bloggers.

They read through tweets on, Orlando Sentinel's @OSCaseyAnthony Twitter feed and other local media sites, gauging opinions about defense and state attorneys, witness testimonies, evidence and especially the focal point of the trial — Casey Anthony.

Those opinions were presented to Casey Anthony's defense attorney, Jose Baez, who initially had his doubts about the social media tactic. Ultimately, Singer said, Baez would decide how and what he was willing to adjust in his trial strategy.

When public opinion on Twitter or Facebook changed dramatically, Singer said she made it clear to the defense that they needed to tweak their strategy.

"A perfect example was Cindy Anthony," Singer recalled. "People hated her when she admitted to the chloroform searches, but there were many who said she lied out of motherly instinct. They felt a kinship, especially mothers. In closing, the defense softened its approach and said she lied to protect [Casey Anthony]."

Singer, a trial consultant and litigation psychologist with experience in high-profile cases like the O.J. Simpson trial, William Kennedy Smith rape case and the Jack Kevorkian euthanasia case, said she learned plenty from the countless hours spent reading and analyzing social media traffic.

"I've spent 32 years listening to people's reactions to trial stimulus, but it's never been anything like this," Singer said. "This whole case was driven by social media. We really tapped into people's minds and I think it's a tool that should be used by defense and prosecution."

Danielle Tavernier of the Orange-Osceola State Attorney's Office said their prosecutors use social media sites to locate witnesses, but do not hire jury consultants.

"It's really a question of cost. We do not have the resources to spend time reviewing social media," Tavernier said. "We have other cases to prosecute, but maybe it's something that could develop in the future." or 407-420-6262

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The Social Media Trial of the Century
Palm Beach Post

July 6, 2011
Online 'lynch mob' led Casey Anthony's defense team to adapt, jury consultant says
By Jane Musgrave

Amy Singer calls the Casey Anthony trial "the social media trial of the century."
As jury consultant for Anthony's defense team, she should know.

As part of her duties, she oversaw an army of people who monitored social media around the clock, gauging how the sordid case of an Orlando woman accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter was playing in the digital world.

The vast majority, glued to cable TV's gavel-to-gavel coverage of the six-week trial, hated the 25-year-old Orlando woman and was convinced she killed her daughter.

"It was a lynch mob," Singer said.

At one point, a million people were blogging about the trial, not including the thousands more who were either tweeting, texting or discussing the case in online chat rooms, she said.

The venom not only helped her assist Anthony's attorneys in altering their trial strategy to respond to online critics, but also helps explain why people were inflamed Tuesday when a jury acquitted Anthony of killing her daughter, Caylee, Singer said.

Home viewers were convinced of Anthony's guilt before the first witness was called. The TV coverage seemed to confirm their beliefs.

"I call them camera victims," she said.

Watching the trial through the narrow eye of a television lens, home viewers convinced themselves they knew every twist and turn of the case. But, the renowned Fort Lauderdale consultant said, they didn't.

While the television camera focused home viewers' attention on whoever was sitting in the witness box, whom were jurors watching?

"They were looking at George," Singer said, referring to Anthony's father. And, she said, what they saw confirmed suspicions that were planted when he testified. He fidgeted. He gulped.

He didn't seem trustworthy.

Further, home viewers saw an inexplicably blank-faced Anthony listening to hours of testimony about her dead daughter. What home viewers saw as creepily unemotional underscored her defense team's suggestion that she is mentally ill. TV cameras, Singer said, also didn't capture Anthony's reaction when photos of Caylee were shown to the jury. She cried.

Defense attorneys agreed that much is lost in translation. "The jurors can watch the body language of all the people in the courtroom," said West Palm Beach attorney Michelle Suskauer.

The nonverbal clues, facial expressions and comments that aren't picked up on audio feeds all figure into a jury's decision. But the biggest difference is that home viewers, unlike real jurors, didn't hold Anthony's life in their hands.

"Being an armchair quarterback is a much different situation than when you're actually in the hot seat and you're going to be held responsible for the decision for the rest of your life," said Terence Lenamon, a Miami defense attorney who was part of Anthony's pretrial defense team.

But he and other attorneys dismissed claims that jurors were afraid to make a decision that could send Anthony to Death Row or simply wanted to get the job over with.

"Come on, a little girl died," said former Palm Beach County prosecutor Craig Williams, who is now a defense attorney. "If they had any evidence she did it, they would have come back in two minutes with a guilty verdict."

Instead, the jury came back after 11 hours and found her guilty of only four counts of providing false information to a law enforcement officer. She is to be sentenced today.

A guilty verdict was an easy call for home viewers, Singer said. Unlike jurors, who swear they will be impartial, they were convinced of Anthony's guilt. None would have been picked for the jury.

The insight she gained by monitoring social media will likely change the way major trials are conducted, she said. But, she and others agreed, the Anthony trial was one for the ages.

Having served as a jury consultant for Michael Jackson's child molestation trial and when Dr. Jack Kevorkian was tried for helping people kill themselves, she said she knows courtroom drama. "This was unbelievable," she said.

"The Anthonys made the Addams family look like the Cleavers," she said. "And Casey Anthony looked like the most mentally stable of the bunch."
Defense attorneys said the near-total absence of physical evidence is exceedingly rare.

"There wasn't even a cause of death," said West Palm Beach attorney Marc Shiner. "There wasn't even evidence if (Caylee's death) was accidental or intentional. It was a very unusual case."

And, Singer said, the acquittal wasn't completely unforeseen. Before the trial, the case was presented to two mock juries - one by another jury consultant and one by the TV newsmagazine 48 Hours.

The verdict both times?

Not guilty.

On murder and social media: Casey Anthony's jury consultant speaks
A Lawyers USA exclusive

By: Sylvia Hsieh
Staff writer
Published: July 5, 2011

Tags: Casey Anthony, jury selection, social media, voir dire

Minutes after the jury delivered a stunning defense verdict in the Casey Anthony murder trial, the defendant's chief trial consultant, Amy Singer, spoke with Lawyers USA about what trial lawyers can learn from the case.

Singer, who has consulted on other high profile cases including the Jack Kevorkian and Michael Jackson trials, said that this case was different due to her extensive use of social media.

"Social media was the difference between winning and losing," said Singer, whose company, Trial Consultants Inc., is based in Gainesville, Fla.

Working around the clock, Singer and her team of a dozen people monitored 40,000 blogs, chat rooms and Facebook pages to find out what people were thinking about the case as the trial progressed.

In an exclusive print interview, Singer – who admitted she was "shocked" by how quickly the jury returned a verdict – explains the trial tactics and gives insights about jury selection and her use of social media in the Casey Anthony trial:

Lawyers USA: You said blogs were a "life saver" in the case. How so?

Singer: They were a life saver because they told us what the prosecution was thinking. Then the defense lawyers were able to answer those questions [in front of the real jury]. It was like having a free shadow jury. You would not believe the kinds of things people were saying, and a lot of it was counterintuitive. I needed to hear from pro-prosecution people. I don't preach to the choir. I go to extreme measures to find people who are against my client. I'm not interested in persuading people on my side. I'm interested in persuading people on the fence.

Lawyers USA: Did you participate in the chat rooms or just sit back and observe?

Singer: We sent out trial balloons, made little comments. I told them who I was, that I was a trial consultant for the defense. One comment I posted was, 'I don't think George (Casey Anthony's father) is going to win "Father of the Year" anytime soon.' What blew my mind was that after George's mistress testified, pro-prosecution bloggers said 'Poor George, he's not on trial.' So we knew not to harp on George, because the more you harp on him, the more [the real jurors who may be leaning toward prosecution] were going to defend him.

Another question we asked was, 'Why is Casey guilty of homicide?' They told me there were four or five things, but nobody could pick out one thing. It amounted to circumstantial evidence. Also, the reasons were things that happened after [her daughter Caylee] died, [such as Casey partying and getting a tattoo in the month after], nothing before, so it doesn't go to premeditation.

Lawyers USA: How did the lawyers use the information you mined from these blogs?

Singer: We sent comments constantly to [defense attorneys] Jose [Baez] and Dorothy [Clay Sims]. They had to integrate the comments into the trial and think fast, and they geared their case toward that. For example, when Cindy (Casey's mother) testified [that] she did a [Internet] search for chloroform, everybody hated her. But others said this was a mother protecting her child. So we knew how to play that. That's exactly what Jose said in his closing: 'She's protecting her child.'

Lawyers USA: Talk about jury selection in the case.

Singer: It's not jury selection; it's jury deselection. And jury deselection is king. We deselected 392 people who either said they think she's guilty or said they wouldn't be able to change their mind.

It's being able to understand the code, because people talk in code. For example, when I asked Juror #7 during voir dire what she remembered hearing or reading about the case, she said, 'Universal and a baby sitter.' This told me what she recalled was lies and that she would probably be in favor of the prosecution. (Casey Anthony lied about working for Universal Studios and led the police there even though she did not have an office or job there.)

On the other hand, if someone told me, 'I remember the search [for Caylee],' that's neutral. I also know that meant they probably saw George Anthony and his duct tape that the kid supposedly suffocated on. It was his duct tape.

I preferred to have people on the jury who didn't have children. All the bloggers kept saying, 'I'm a grandparent and if my grandkid went missing for three minutes I would know,' or, 'I'm a mother and I wouldn't be out partying if my daughter was missing.'

The jury was very analytical. Three or four people on that jury were only interested in the forensic evidence, according to their body language. They leaned forward and went into the thinker position only during forensic evidence testimony. Obviously the forensic evidence wasn't there for them.

– Sylvia Hsieh

Questions or comments can be directed to the writer at:

© Copyright 2011 Lawyers USA. All Rights Reserved.

Consultant says Casey Anthony verdict influenced by social media

Julie Kay
Daily Business Review
July 08, 2011

Amy Singer
Photo by Melanie Bell

Lawmakers rush to file 'Caylee' bills to report missing kids

During the nearly two-month Casey Anthony trial, lead trial consultant Amy Singer would leave the courtroom at the end of each day and head for her computer. There, she and her team would monitor about 40,000 blog items to find out what was annoying people about Anthony — and tailor their defense accordingly.

Singer, who runs the Fort Lauderdale-based Singer Cos., said the trial was the first high-profile murder trial to take place in the social media age and will forever change how lawyers defend clients.

"We had video live stream on computers," she said. "There were bloggers. There were chat rooms. As a result, my entire team was monitoring the blogosphere, chat rooms and discussion rooms, giving feedback to the defense team daily. This whole trial was social-media driven."

In her 32 years as a trial consultant, Singer has worked on plenty of high-profile cases, including the O.J. Simpson murder trial, the Jack Kevorkian euthanasia case and the William Kennedy Smith rape trial. In the Kennedy case she was hired by Time Warner to conduct a "shadow jury" and report findings nightly on the television program "A Current Affairs." A psychologist, she also has worked for tobacco and Chinese drywall class action attorneys.
Singer got involved in Anthony's case about 1½ years ago when she got a call from Ocala attorney Dorothy Clay Sims, who owns a farm near Singer's Gainesville farm. Sims was co-counsel for Anthony with South Florida native Jose Baez.

Singer was tapped to help the team pick a jury and consult during the trial, along with other defense consultants, Richard Gabriel of California and Karen Hurwitz and Mike Ford of Texas.

The Texas team monitored the trial daily by streaming video and emailed Baez and the defense team with comments, while Singer and her staff — daughter Danielle Singer Vaughan and research assistant Diana Diesendreck — were in the courtroom.

Pro Bono Defense
Baez's team asked the court for funds to hire jury consultants but was turned down after prosecutors told the judge they were not hiring jury consultants. The consulting team worked on the case pro bono as did all the defense attorneys.

Singer said they knew the case would be largely won or lost during jury selection.
"I agree with Nancy Grace that the case was pretty much over after the jury was picked," she said, adding blogger comments confirmed her view.

Common wisdom that attorneys like stupid jurors is just "old wives' tales," said Singer, who said her team was clear that they wanted "bright and intelligent" jurors.

Also in: people who mentioned Caylee Anthony's skull was found in a field.
"That was a good juror for us because we knew the field was contaminated by swamps," Singer said.

The jury consultants also were happy to have two nurses on the jury, so they could see that the prosecution was reaching by having pathologists testify that all accidents are reported to police, she said. "It was clearly out of their area of expertise as pathologists, and the nurses would see that," Singer said.

Out as jurors: people who mentioned Casey Anthony was out partying and getting a tattoo when her daughter was missing.
"Because what does that have to do with the price of tea in China. It just shows that she is crazy," Singer said. "Some people, when they are traumatized, they imagine things. And that's what Casey did. It's magical thinking. Plus she's a pathological liar."

Combing Blogs
The consultants' job was hardly over once the jury was picked. In fact, that's when it became a full-time gig for Singer. The consultants were tasked with monitoring voluminous social media sites to keep their finger on the public's pulse. To keep up with the blog traffic, Singer asked for volunteers on the website of the American Society of Trial Consultants and was overwhelmed with responses.

When Singer first told Baez about the social media plan of attack, he wasn't convinced.
"He said, 'Do we really need to do that?'??" recalls Singer, who believes the prosecution also did not realize the need to monitor social media.

Danielle Tavernier, spokeswoman for Orange State Attorney Lamar Lawson, whose office prosecuted Anthony, said her office did not hire jury consultants or use any social media.
"We do not have a Twitter account, Facebook page or blog, and we don't use any social media," she said.

Once Singer assured Baez of the necessity of social media, she and her team combed through blogs to isolate the "important negative comments" they felt needed to be addressed.
"I didn't want to hear the good stuff," she said. "We needed to give the jury enough weapons to bolster their opinions. I didn't want to be singing cowboy music to someone who wants to sing opera."

For instance, when the blogs started attacking George Anthony, Singer and her team took notice and encouraged the defense to beef up their attacks on the defendant's father.

"We had to know how much to blame George," she said. Similarly, bloggers "loved" Cindy Anthony until she took credit for the chloroform searches and then began to turn on the defendant's mother. At that point, Singer's team "distanced ourselves" from her and encouraged Baez to take a watered-down position in closing arguments that "at least she had some sort of maternal instinct."

Social Media
The team worked hand in hand with Palm Beach-based Legal Graphicworks, which spent hundreds of hours creating timelines, 3-D graphics and other visual aids to illustrate the case to jurors.

"I am the type of person who wakes up at 3 a.m. when I have an idea and jots it down, and they are the same way," Singer said, adding she would frequently email Legal Graphicworks company CEO Jim Lucas at 3 a.m. and get an answer.

Gabriel, one of the other consultants on the case, said he felt the Casey Anthony case will forever change the way trials are run in major cases and believes trial consultants were instrumental in her acquittal.

"I think this is the most significant case where the Internet played a role," he said. "A lot of people think we just pick a jury, but we do a lot more. It might have benefited the prosecution to hire jury consultants to understand how the jury makes decisions. I believe it's important for everybody to use a consultant."

But not everyone thinks the Internet and social media was as helpful to the defense as other factors.

Miami criminal defense attorney Roy Black attributes the fact that an out-of-town jury was chosen as the single most important reason for the acquittal.

"I think the reason Casey Anthony was acquitted was because a jury was picked from Pinellas County and did not see any of the coverage or social media and therefore was not influenced by the Nancy Graces of the world," Black said. "If they were from Orlando and had to go home every night, they would have seen television and the Internet. It proves why it's necessary in a high-profile case to have an insulated jury."

Another Miami criminal defense attorney, Mark Eiglarsh, gives trial consultants and their use of social media some credit for the defense win, but thinks the lack of evidence and the jury's reasonable doubt was the overwhelming reason.

"There's no question that all of those things — social media, Twitter, all of it — are valuable, but at the end of the day, they could only prosecute with what they had," he said. "I'm sure the guy who sold Jose his suits will take some credit too, and some might say the prosecutor's bullying affected jurors. But first and foremost is always, is there sufficient proof to tip the scales?"

"I don't think the prosecutors live in a cave," he added. "They know about twitter and these things."

When asked whether her office might employ social media in the future, Tavernier said, "if it was something that was ever considered, there would be a cost attached, and there would be a lot of debate on that."

Julie Kay can be reached at (305) 347-6685.

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Dr. Amy Singer Featured on Network Television's "48 Hours"

Casey Anthony trial consultant reveals social media strategy to go after George

Charisse Van Horn, Tampa Crime Examiner
July 15, 2011 - Like this? Subscribe to get instant updates.

Casey Anthony trial consultant reveals social media strategy to go after George

On July 14, 2011, HLN show host Jane Velez-Mitchell interviewed a trial consultant for the Casey Anthony case who revealed the defense strategy of monitoring social media networking sites for comments people were making regarding the trial. According to the interview with Amy Singer, reaction on blogs, MySpace, Facebook and Twitter caused defense attorneys to go after George Anthony.

Watch live coverage of the Zenaida Gonzalez hearing while court is in session

Jane Velez-Mitchell asked Amy Singer how she came up with the social media networking strategy. Amy Singer explained, "Well, actually, it was -- it was a function of me being lazy and not wanting to be in the courtroom every minute. And of course, my daughter or someone was in the courtroom all the time. But what we found was that, when we were looking at the blogs and looking at the -- the texts that were going on, we were finding that a lot of people were giving their reactions to everything from jury selection all the way on up to the evidence. And we found that that was invaluable. That we were able to give the defense team this kind of intel."

Warning! Graphic photos of Caylee Anthony's remians show to jury

Jane Velez-Mitchell then asked Amy Singer about specific Tweets that were posted during the trial regarding George Anthony. She stated, "I`m going to read some of the tweets that we just found, casually, just checking the Internet."George knows the truth, but will he ever come clean?" "I call for a full investigation of George." "George Anthony is not the doting father everyone thinks." "George is a complete liar." "George Anthony was not a credible witness." She then asked Amy Singer if the defense targeted George Anthony after learning that no one liked him.

Casey Anthony Trial Videos | Casey Anthony Trial Photos

Amy Singer replied, "Well, we found -- not nobody liked him. Some people did like him. Some people felt sorry for him. Some people, even after the -- the affair was revealed, still liked him. "Oh, poor George." They were mainly Casey haters who were going to hate Casey no matter what and find her guilty no matter what.

But those people who were on the fence, they began to turn their attention toward George, and they just didn`t believe some of the things that he said. There were certain inconsistencies.

One of the shockers was when he went to the impound, you know, there was testimony that he said, when he smelt the trunk, besides him saying, "I hope it`s not Casey or Caylee," he said, "I`m going to get divorced over this." That`s a strange thing to say. Why would somebody say something like this?"

Jane Velez-Mitchell then asked the question voiced by many who believe that George Anthony is innocent and was unfairly portrayed by the defense as a pedophile. She questioned Singer by saying, "OK. Let me ask you this, Amy. Do you have any qualms? Do you have any kind of feeling that, "Hey, I might have contributed to destroying George Anthony`s life? Maybe he isn`t a molester. Maybe he`s just a guy, a simple man caught in a very bad situation? And now that the defense targeted him, based on all these tweets, we`ve destroyed his life." Any thoughts on that?"

To that, Amy Singer replied, "No. All I did was pass on the intel . All I did was decide to use the Internet and use the social media and cherry-pick comments and pass that on to the defense. And it`s just nothing more than a trial consulting strategy. It`s the 21st century focus group, if you will."

What do you think about the defense strategy to throw George under the bus?

From Inside Track

August 17, 2011

Fort Lauderdale consultant Amy Singer hired by CNN

Fresh off her work as a trial consultant for Casey Anthony, Amy Singer has moved onto another high-profile case — Dr. Conrad Murray, who faces trial this fall on manslaughter charges in the death of singer Michael Jackson.

Singer's Fort Lauderdale-based Trial Consultants has been hired not by the defense but by CNN. She was contracted to do a social media analysis and has signed on as a network commentator once jury selection begins.

For now, Singer has been combing blogs, chat rooms and Facebook fan pages to take the public temperature of Murray. So far, she says the overwhelming message is to convict Murray.

"There is a lot being posted on standard of care, the operational definition of involuntary manslaughter," she said. "People do a lot of research. They become like private investigators. And they're making Michael a saint. They're worried Murray's going to get away it."

As Jackson's personal physician. Murray administered propofol to Jackson before he died.

Jury selection is set for Sept. 8 and is expected to take several weeks. Murray faces up to four years in prison if convicted in a trial that could last until Thanksgiving.

Due to her recognition in Anthony's case, Singer said she has read cautionary comments on blogs from people who write "watch out, Amy Singer may be monitoring us." Singer said she sometimes replies to comments she sees.








National law journal article 2008

Getting Up Close and Personal: Using Social Media in Jury Selection

Voir dire is often too brief or too constrained by the preferences of the court or the skills of the questioner. The advantage of revealing and exploring the values and attitudes of venire members to inform deselection choices often is challenged by the limits imposed upon voir dire. We do know this: Jurors are more candid online then they are in the courtroom. We know from social science research that responses to Supplemental Juror Questionnaires are more revealing and more truthful than responses to oral voir dire. It's one small step to extrapolate that, in the privacy of your own home typing on your own laptop in your blog or Facebook, such expressions would be more revealing and more likely to be a true reflection of held attitudes, values and opinions. Being able to use Internet searches and Social Networking publicly published is a boon to the trial attorney hoping to select an unbiased and open minded jury.

Reuters quipped that traditional voir dire is being transformed into "Voir Google". Both Forbes and the Wall Street Journal Online have addressed what is perceived with some concern the evolving practice of Social Media Analysis. Online juror vetting can serve as a way to bypass court imposed restrictions and other limitations on voir dire which can be especially helpful in state and federal courts where a lawyer conducted voir dire is not permitted.

Scanning Facebook , MySpace and Twitter , and using Google searches to find jurors' names on the websites of government agencies, school boards, local companies, and sites that contain property and court records can be very revealing. Links to each site can be assembled in a spreadsheet. Results from these searches can be used to compose a profile of the potential jurors' online persona and a record of salient attitudes and actual behavior which is a gold mine for the juror deselection process.

A study by Acquisti & Gross (2006) noted that while concern for online privacy is high there is no significant relationship between individual's privacy attitudes (how protective they believed themselves to be) and their likelihood of sharing personal information on-line. Majorities reported providing "complete and accurate" information about their birthday, their political views, and their sexual orientation, among other things.

The federal courts so far have not addressed the issue of online vetting of jurors, and just two states, Missouri and New Jersey, have said it's acceptable in some forms. But judges and lawyers, even in those states, still seem to be grappling with the practice.

Trolling Twitter, Cable TV and Blogs:

In a ground breaking effort, Amy Singer, with the aid of other professional trial consultants, during Casey Anthony's weeks long trial, daily analyzed more than 40,000 highly charged opinions, both negative and positive on social media sites and blogs, and use them to help the defense crafted trial strategy. This pro bono aggregation of trial consultants from all over the country intervened when they became concerned about the volatile nature of television media as well as social media and the impact it would have on seating a reasonably fair and open-minded jury.

Especially in highly publicized cases like the Casey Anthony murder trial, monitoring social media sites like Facebook and Twitter and Blogs can and does revolutionize the way lawyers and trial consultants advocate for their clients. Scanning tweets, Facebook posts and messages from bloggers, and other media sites can provide trial advocates a means to gauge opinions about the plaintiff, prosecution or defense, trial attorneys, witness testimony, evidence, and the developing focus point of the trial whatever that may be.

In the in the highly publicized case, daily monitoring of the social media becomes an online shadow jury. Naturally, the trial attorney and the trial consultant must decide how and when to adjust trial strategy. This is a tool that opens public postings to tap into people's minds as gauge of likely juror attitudes as an adjunct to trial strategy.

One thing is clear, attorneys and consultants should be using this information, but only as long as they're looking for public information and not using techniques to get past privacy walls. Statements, attitudes, and expressions on the potential jurors "wall" is public, and the only way to tell if it could be relevant to the case at hand is by reading it.

Social media analysis, when ethically and properly done amounts to a study of public records (using sites such as KnowX and ZabaSearch ) as well as available social media (Google, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) to identify the evident experiences, attitudes, and beliefs of potential jurors. Based on this research, attorneys receive advice on any potential concerns with prospective jurors. When a jury is seated; the team can also monitor any active social networkers known to be on the jury, to make sure they aren't blogging about the trial, for example, and risking a mistrial.

Ken Broda-Bahm, a senior trial consultant for Persuasion Strategies has listed a very helpful set of do's and don'ts as it relates to social media analysis in their great blog, LitigationPS

"This is what I consider responsible social media analysis:

1) Run juror names through a public records database. Most of the information you retrieve will not be especially important, but occasionally you will be surprised. In one of our cases, for example, we found that an attorney who had been disbarred in two states for defrauding clients (but who said in voir dire that he had "never been involved in a legal proceeding") was potentially sitting in a trial…for a fraud case.

2) Run jurors' names through the common search engines as well as those sites which are currently vogue (e.g., Facebook and Twitter).

3) Include common variants of juror names, as well as identifying information like hometown and age.

4) Remember there is no substitute for case-relevant questioning in either oral voir dire, a supplemental juror questionnaire or a combination. On-line investigations can give you a good picture of your juror, but you won't see the full set of attitudes and experiences that bear directly on the issues in your case.

5) Don't believe everything you read. Something isn't more "true" because it is on the internet, and we all know that there is a certain level of posturing (or social desirability bias) present in on-line writing.

And this is what I consider over the line:

1) Don't violate the intent of privacy settings. If a writer makes it public, it is public. If, on the other hand, the writer intends to make it visible to registered members or to those who are "friended," then it is private. Even if there is a technical way to view the data, don't do it.

2) Don't 'friend' potential jurors. This seems obvious. However, the Wall Street Journal reported that a Cameron County, Texas District Attorney has supplied iPads to his prosecutors for use during voir dire (not necessarily a bad idea) and is considering ways to get behind potential jurors' privacy walls in Facebook by offering them free internet in exchange for "friending" his office (definitely a bad idea). I imagine that defense attorneys are a little disturbed at the notion of their entire panel being asked to "friend" the prosecutor. Even without the enticement of free internet access, any access request is a form of contact, and a party's contact with potential jurors is prohibited for a good reason.

3) Don't make an enemy of the judge. Whether you or I can defend the practice is one thing, and whether your judge approves of it is another. As one New Jersey attorney found out, it isn't a good idea to sit in court Googling jurors if the judge finds that practice disturbing. While an appeals court ultimately ruled in favor of the attorney, the best practice is to know and follow the judge's preferences. When a venire list is available in advance, you should conduct your searches from the safety of your own office.

While the practice of social media analysis is not new, we can expect it to fall under greater scrutiny. The American Society of Trial Consultants has adopted professional standards relating to background checks on potential jurors, which basically track what I'm suggesting above: go ahead and gain the relevant information, but respect potential jurors, be honest, and follow the law. Not so hard when you break it down."

In summary, Social Media Analysis supplements and expands the armamentarium the trial advocate has to inform and illuminate the attitudes, values, biases, and behavior of prospective jurors. Like properly conducted oral voir dire and the effective use of Supplemental Juror Questionnaires, knowing what makes your venire panelists tick is the first crucial step in the pursuit of justice for your client. Social Media Analysis is a valuable and expanding means of getting the job done for effective jury selection.


August 13, 2008 - The National Law Journal
Social Networking Sites Help Vet Jurors

Julie Kay
In last year's federal terrorism case against once-suspected "dirty bomber" Jose Padilla, a team of defense lawyers were sitting at a back table in the Miami federal courtroom with their laptops searching online all the jurors when they discovered one had lied on her jury questionnaire.

The woman, a Miami-area government employee who has not been identified, said she had no personal experience in the criminal system.
It turned out she was currently under investigation for malfeasance, according to Linda Moreno, a Tampa, Fla., solo trial lawyer who served as a jury consultant for one of Padilla's co-defendants. After the judge was informed, she dismissed the juror. See U.S. v. Hassoun, No. 0:04cr60001 (S.D. Fla.).

The Miami case was not unusual. As more and more information on people becomes available on the Internet, through posting on personal blogs, MySpace, Facebook and other social networking Web sites, the Internet has, in the last few years, become an important tool for jury consultants and trial lawyers.

Jury consultants say such sites are a treasure trove of information about potential and seated jurors that can be used in picking the right jurors, bouncing potential jurors and even influencing jurors through the trial and in closing arguments.

To mine the gold, jury consultants have begun turning to private investigators, some of whom have started niche businesses offering Internet jury research and "personality profiling" of jurors.
"If it's within the law, with peoples' lives at stake and millions and millions of dollars at stake, people will do whatever it takes to win a case," said Marshall Hennington, a Beverly Hills, Calif., jury consultant at Hennington & Associates. "The stakes are getting higher and higher, and it's becoming increasingly difficult to persuade jurors that have strong biases ... so we need information ahead of time. Everything is fair game."

Jury consultants and trial lawyers typically compose jury questionnaires for jurors to answer during voir dire, if approved by judges. Some of the questionnaires are basic -- employment, marital status, age, criminal record. But some are dozens of pages long and highly detailed.

Still, consultants and lawyers have found that jurors don't always answer the questions honestly. So they have, in recent years, begun hiring private investigators and conducting their own research on jurors.
Jeffrey Frederick, a jury consultant at National Legal Research Group of Charlottesville, Va., now routinely checks the Internet for juror information, and has had some success.
Two years ago, he discovered through an Internet text search that a juror had won the lottery. Working for defense counsel in a personal injury case, Frederick feared the juror might "treat the case like a lottery," or think nothing of awarding a large amount of money. He recommended striking the juror, although the case wound up being dismissed.
Frederick also found, through an Internet search that turned up a news story, that a juror on a recent personal injury case had an accident almost identical to the plaintiff's. He urged the defense lawyer he was working for to strike that juror.

About a year and a half ago, Frederick said, he started asking on jury questionnaires whether jurors have pages on MySpace, Facebook or other social networking sites. It's helpful to ask, Frederick said, because sometimes the page will be under a different moniker than the juror's actual name. About 10 percent of jurors report they have such a site, he said.

In addition to searching jurors' names, Anne Reed, a jury consultant and shareholder at Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren of Milwaukee, asks all jurors whether they have social networking sites.
"You get a picture of the juror that's almost always different," Reed said. "It's often well worthwhile to look."

Reed gives the example of "Erin," a young blogger who achieved some notoriety in Florida after blogging last year about being a juror. The post on Sept. 28 was entitled, "I will eat your babies, bitch!" In her post, she states that she is terrified of white people because "I am pretty sure they all gang rapists."
"I totally understand how innocent people that go to prison turn into hardened criminals," she stated in her obscenity-laden post.
Then, three days later, she posted, "I am a juror."

The lawyers might not have struck Erin simply because of her outspoken blog, but they certainly would have known about it, Reed said.
"You'd hate to leave Erin on your jury without having seen her writing," said Reed. "A juror's blog tells you things about the jurors that she probably won't tell you herself."

Last year, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., jury consultant Amy Singer was doing Internet research on potential jurors for a products liability case involving a maintenance worker who was severely injured after being forced to get inside a machine to clean it.

Singer -- who was working for the plaintiffs attorney -- hit paydirt when she found out that one of the jurors divulged on his MySpace page that he belonged to a support group for claustrophobics.
Singer instantly knew this juror would be sympathetic to her client and advised her client to keep him on the panel. He wound up becoming the foreman. The plaintiff prevailed.

Jury consultant Robert Hirschhorn of Cathy E. Bennett & Associates of Lewisville, Texas, agreed that what people post on their MySpace or Facebook pages is far different from what they state on their jury questionnaires.
Hirschhorn recalled a recent case in which a juror checked "no affiliations" on his juror questionnaire and, through Internet research, Hirschhorn discovered that he belonged to "fringe right-wing" conservative groups.
"For whatever reason, he forgot to mention it," said Hirschhorn, co-author of Blue's Guide to Jury Selection and a jury consultant since 1985. "If we hadn't had this amazing resource, we wouldn't have found that. The Internet is an amazing tool for lawyers."


In recent years, Hirschhorn and others have started searching online for letters to the editor written by jurors. In fact, Frederick recently discovered that a juror on a death penalty case had actually written a guest editorial on the death penalty.
The difficulty of Internet research is time. Lawyers are typically not given lists of jurors until a day or even hours before jury selection begins. With federal trials, lawyers might have several days' notice.
This means that the minute jury lists are obtained at Los Angeles-based jury consultant Vinson & Company, employees furiously begin typing away on their computers, doing Internet searches.
"You get lists with dozens, even hundreds, of names on it," said Vinson's president and chief executive officer, Stephen J. Paterson.
Some jury consultants and lawyers, however, still want to research their juries even after jury selection, for different reasons. For one thing, the information can be used to get a case overturned on appeal if it turns out a juror lied on a questionnaire.
Additionally, some consultants and lawyers are beginning to use Internet information they've obtained about jurors to influence them during the trial, particularly during closing arguments.
This can be tricky, said Paterson.
"You don't want to tip off jurors so that they know you've been investigating them," he said. "And you don't want to pander to them. That can be dicey and potentially dangerous -- although I'm sure a skilled trial lawyer could find a way to weave information into his words."
Miami criminal defense lawyer Richard Sharpstein of Jorden Burt has used the Internet extensively to research witnesses and prosecutors, and once got a prosecutor thrown off a high-profile case for posting about the case on MySpace.
But Sharpstein said he never thought to research potential jurors, until now.
"The next time we get a case, you can bet I'll have an associate sitting there with a laptop plugging in names," he said. "It's another tool for the arsenal."


Dan Small, a litigator at Holland & Knight out of Boston and Miami and a former federal prosecutor, is reluctant to research jurors, even though he acknowledges that "the Internet is a great resource for lawyers.
"You are taking people who are doing their civic duty and didn't sign up to have their whole life probed," Small said. "It scares people. They wonder: 'Are they going to hack into our e-mails next?' The Internet in so many areas creates an extraordinary conflict between the desire for information and the desire for privacy."
Hirschhorn also cautions his clients to avoid tipping off a juror that he or she has been investigated.
"The juror might then go to the other jurors and say, 'You know what that lawyer did, he investigated me,'" he said. "They may think you're invading their privacy and think ill of you."
Instead, Hirschhorn tells his clients to keep information gleaned off the Internet hush-hush. They'll use it for peremptory strikes, without giving any indication why the person is being bounced, he said.
Additionally, Hirschhorn said he is just now starting to see lawyers use information in opening and closings. For example, a lawyer discovered from a person's MySpace page that his favorite book was The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, and found a way to subtly include that reference into his closing arguments.
"I haven't seen any abuse, such as a lawyer discovering a juror loves eating at Christina's Mexican restaurant and then making sure food is brought in during jury deliberations from Christina's Mexican restaurant," he said.
For her part, jury consultant Singer insists that using Internet research to influence jurors is perfectly ethical.
"If you find that someone is a member of an environmental group, or believes in a charity, you might use analogies to gain sympathy for your client," she said. "If someone puts on their MySpace page that family is the most important thing to them, you can argue that a person was injured and will not be able to enjoy their families."


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