As I understand it, the attorneys for the injured person hire a group of citizens who represent the potential jury pool. Then the attorneys spend a few hours laying out their case and getting feedback from the focus group. Strengths, weaknesses, pitfalls, what types of themes work, what types don't work. This aids the attorneys in preparing for trial.
I thought things like this only existed in movies or in the largest law firms in the country until our conversation. I've definitely never heard of it in a criminal case. That seems odd. People fight the hardest and pay any amount of fees in cases where the argument is over money. Where the issue is a person's freedom, parties are generally amicable and there is less money spent preparing.
Prosecutors can't run focus groups. We don't have the time or money to pay the group. Also, I wouldn't want the details of my case leaked to anyone off the street. There is no guarantee of safety for my victims. Criminal defense attorneys can't do it either. They don't have the time. If they spent that amount of time preparing for one case, their others would suffer. Their income would suffer too. If they are court appointed, the court will not authorize payment for a focus group. The only way is if the attorney is retained and the defendant is willing to shell out some big bucks for a focus group.
I would love to do a dry run of my case with a group before the actual trial. Every time I speak to jurors after a trial I learn something I could have done better. If I could get that information before trial, I could avoid potential pitfalls.
Unfortunately, it's unrealistic in the criminal system.