At a recent deposition in Austin, lawyers for a dental Medicaid provider discovered that the State has invested thousands of dollars to employ a well-known Dallas jury consultant to help prepare the State’s witnesses to testify in depositions and in administrative hearings.
State hires jury consultant to brief witnesses
The State’s witnesses are getting prepared to testify in the State’s Medicaid fraud cases by meeting with forensic psychologist Jason Bloom before their depositions. So far, Mr. Bloom has spent at least two days preparing the State’s expert witnesses—including Dr. Linda Altenhoff and Dr. Ron Gallerano, the State’s witnesses in many dental Medicaid fraud claims—on how to carry themselves and how to be likable, even going as far as role playing the sorts of questions and answers that should be expected.
“Jurors do not decide cases based on facts. They decide cases based on their perceptions of fact.”
Bloom is the principal of Bloom Strategic Consulting Inc. in Dallas. His firm specializes in providing advice to attorneys on how to conduct a trial and sway a jury to their arguments using psychology. He does this by conducting mock trials, and advising clients and their witnesses on what arguments work and why. “I often tell lawyers and witnesses that they are nothing more than perception managers,” Mr. Bloom said in a 2012 Dallas Morning News article. “Jurors do not decide cases based on facts. They decide cases based on their perceptions of fact.”
In fact, in a youtube video touting his methods, Mr. Bloom explains that he works his magic by helping the State “identify who in the jury pool harbors those life experiences, those dangerous attitudes and dangerous predispositions so that when it’s time for us to determine who we want to remove from the [jury] panel, who know who is the most dangerous jurors, or potential jurors, who are left in the [jury] pool.”
$400 per hour plus expenses
Per the Dallas Morning News feature, Bloom charges $400 an hour plus expenses for his time. A full mock jury trial costs $15,000 to $30,000 at his Dallas office with out-of-town work costing $10,000 to $15,000 more.
Bloom told the News, “Everything we do in this room [mock courtroom] is aimed at eliminating the guesswork associated with litigation…There’s often a gap the size of the ocean between what lawyers and witnesses want to tell the jury and what a jury actually wants to know. I bridge that gap.”
Witness told he was “too verbose” and deposition a “mental game”
Neither Dr. Altenhoff nor Dr. Gallerano wanted to reveal much about what Mr. Bloom taught them about how to answer questions. But clearly Dr. Gallerano, who prepared with Mr. Bloom for over four hours, took Mr. Bloom’s lessons to heart. When asked what Mr. Bloom told him he needed to work on, Dr. Gallerano revealed that Mr. Bloom told him he was “too verbose” and that the deposition was “a mental game.”
Once again when Texas can’t find monies to fulfill its obligations to service Medicaid children or pay providers, it canspend money to hire external law firms, psychologists and jury consultants in what appears to be a vain effort to bolster weak legal cases. Two SOAH decisions have already shown this.