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Data analytics, Crowdsourcing, Settlement process, Alternative dispute resolution, Mediation

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Sturm College of Law


By protecting the right to a jury, the state and federal constitutions recognize the fundamental value of having civil and criminal disputes resolved by laypersons. Actual trials, however, are relatively rare, in part because parties seek to avoid the risks and cost of trials and courts seek to clear dockets efficiently. But as desirable as settlement may be, it can be a difficult way to resolve a dispute. Parties view their cases from different perspectives, and these perspectives often cause both sides to be overly optimistic and to expect unreasonably large or unreasonably small resolutions.

This article describes a novel method of incorporating layperson perspectives to provide parties with more accurate information about the value of a case: We suggest that parties work with mediators or settlement judges to create mini-trials and recruit hundreds of online mock jurors to render decisions. By applying modern statistical techniques to these results, the mediators could show the parties the likelihood of possible outcomes and collect qualitative information about strengths and weaknesses for each side. These data will better inform the parties’ views and should thereby facilitate settlement.

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