Dr. Pitera is a psychology and communications expert who specializes in complex litigation and trial consulting and has more than 29 years of experience in the field. She helps clients perform at the highest levels and has managed hundreds of cases during her career. She understands what’s at stake, and she knows how to help clients build persuasive themes.
Her areas of expertise include intellectual property, employment, commercial, environmental, transportation, insurance bad faith, and product liability/personal injury litigation. Merrie Jo is a perceptive listener and observer of jury dynamics and sentiments and provides clear insights into how they are likely to impact a case.
In addition to being a jury specialist, Merrie Jo also prepares witnesses for deposition, trials, arbitration, and congressional hearings. She is a frequent national and international speaker on jury behavior and witness prep methods. She routinely publishes articles in a variety of law journals on jury selection and trial preparation. In February 2016, she published with her co-author, Dr. Barbara Hillmer, a book entitled, Storytelling for the Defense: The Defense Attorney’s Courtroom Guide to Beating Plaintiffs at Their Own Game.
Litigation Insights is a national, woman-owned company with more than 20 years of experience conducting jury research, developing trial graphics and assisting counsel with jury selection and case presentation during trial proceedings. As a full-service firm, the company provides everything from witness preparation and jury selection to trial graphics and courtroom technology.
- Ph.D., Communication Studies, University of Kansas
- M.A., Social Psychology, University of Kansas
- B.A., magna cum laude, Psychology, Clemson University
Articles & Presentations
- Pitera, M.J. (2019). How to Use Counterfactuals to Combat (or Leverage) Jurors’ Hindsight Bias. Insights.
- Pitera, M.J. & Marinakis, C.M. (2019). How to Choose the Best Witness Prep Consultant? Insights.
- Torline, S. & Pitera, M.J. (2019). The Art of Persuasion: Storytelling Matters. KCMBA’s 46th Annual Bench-Bar & Boardroom Conference, Branson, MO
- Wray, T., Smith, W., & Pitera, M.J., (2019). Using Focus Groups to Develop Case Themes. Presentation to Kansas HCSF (Health Care Stabilization Fund), Topeka, KS.
- Pitera, M.J. (2019). How Expert Witnesses Can Deliver More Effective and Persuasive Testimony. Presentation to SEAK, The 28th Annual National Expert Witness Conference, Clearwater Beach, FL.
- Blackwell, J.W., Gordon, C., Pitera, M.J., Besman, D., Gulati, A., & Turner, H. (2019). Panel Member. Mock Trial Exercise: Connecting with Juries and Developing “Good Company” Stories. Presentation to GMA (Grocery Manufacturers Association), Palm Beach Gardens, FL.
- Pitera, M.J. (2019). The Art of Persuasion … Factors that Matter. Presentation for Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP, January 17, 2019.
- Pitera, M.J. & Price, J.M. (2018). Engineering in the Courtroom: Becoming a Technical Consultant or Expert Witness. Recorded Webinar for Lorman Education Services.
- Carrane, J., Dominic, C, O’Toole, T.M. & Pitera, M.J. (2018). The Secrets to a Successful Mock Trial – The Consultant’s Perspective. The 2018 Midwest I.P. Institute, Minneapolis, MN.
- Pitera, M.J. & Sharp, M.P. (2018). The Corporate Witness – Proper Selection and Preparation. Fall 2018 U.S. Law Network Client Conference, Montreal, QC.
- Umberger, R., Solheim, M. Gross, T. & Pitera, M.J. (2018). The Impact of Millennial Jurors on Product Liability Litigation. Fall 2018 U.S. Law Network Client Conference, Montreal, QC.
- Pitera, M.J. & Baggott, A.E. (2018). Employer’s Responsibility for Safety of Employees in the Workplace. U.S. Law Network Employment & Labor Exchange, Dallas, TX.
- Marinakis, C.M., Leibold, J.M., & Pitera, M.J. (2018). What Do Jury Consulting Services Cost When on a Budget? Insights
- Cook, K. & Pitera, M.J. (2018). How Body Language Can Impact Witness Credibility. Insights.
- Pitera, M.J. (2017). How to Make Sure Your Expert Witness Isn’t a Lemon. Insights.
- Laitinen, S.P. & Pitera, M.J. (2017). The Millennial Factor in Jury Selection. For the Defense: Defense Research Institute.
- Duke, K. E., Hedican, C.R., Hughes, K.A., & Pitera, M.J. (2017). Jury Selection in Employment Litigation, Panel Member. U.S. Law Network Employment & Labor Law Exchange, Chicago, IL.
- Solheim, M. & Pitera, M.J. (2017). Strategies for Developing and Delivering a Corporate Apology. U.S. Law Network Winter Conference, Park City, UT.
- Pitera, M.J. (2017). Why Storytelling Is Your Best Defense. Insights
- Tedder-King, A.L. & Pitera, M.J. (2016). Tips for Preparing the Expert Witness. Insights
- Pitera, M.J. (2016). Try or not to try: Using Jury Research to Inform Trial Decisions. Presentation to Earl E. Connor inn of Court, Overland Park, KS.
- Pitera, M.J. (2016). Millennials and Gen-Xers Are in Your Jury Box – Are You Ready? Presentation to Southern Conference of Bar Presidents, Branson, MO.
- Pitera, M.J. & Marinakis, C.M. (2016) Will My Expert Witness Appear Biased? Insights.
- Pitera, M.J. (2016). Masters’ Panel Session, Panel Member. ASTC 35th Annual Conference, Redondo Beach, CA.
- Pitera, M.J. (2016). How Does My Retained Expert Witness Improve Credibility? The Jury Expert, Vol. 28, No. 1.
- Pitera, M.J. & Czyz, K. (2016). Which Is Best When Conducting a Mock Trial: One Jury Panel vs. Multiple Jury Panels? Insights.
- Pitera, M.J. & Hillmer, B. (2016). Storytelling for the Defense – The Defense Attorney’s Guide to Beating Plaintiffs at Their Own Game. Indie Books International, Oceanside, CA.
- Pitera, M.J. & Marinakis, C.M. (2016). Unique Approaches to Jury Research to Leverage Your Position. Webinar presentation for State Farm Insurance.
- Pitera, M.J. & Bloomberg, A. (2015). To Settle or Not to Settle: Using Jury Research to Inform Trial Decisions. CLE Presentation to in-house claims adjusters for AmTrust North America, Dallas, TX.
- Pitera, M.J., Hillmer, B.C. (2015). To Select or Deselect? Understanding Jury Trends for Jury Deselection. Presentation for Ogletree Deakins, Kansas City, MO.
- Pitera, M.J. (2015). Mock Trial Versus Deliberation Group: What Is the Difference? Insights.
- Pitera, M.J. (2015). What Does a Mock Trial Cost? Insights
- Blackwell, J.W., Ford, B. & Pitera, M.J. (2015). Litigation Masters: Trial Demonstration. Presentation for the 35th Annual Mid-Year National Bar Association Conference, St. Louis, MO.
- Pitera, M.J. & Babbitt, E.K. (2015). Effective Witness Preparation, Miss America and the Essence of Communication. Insights.
- Pitera, M.J. & Wilinski, J. (2014). To Select or Deselect? How to Develop a Juror Profile in Employment Cases. Presentation for Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, Kansas City, MO.
- Pitera, M.J. (2014). Confidentiality and Online Jury Research: What Are the Risks? Insights.
- Pitera, M.J. (2014). When a Lawsuit Makes It to the Jury: The Litigation Risks Both Transaction and Litigation Attorneys Should Know. CLE presentation for State Farm Insurance, Bloomington, IL.
- Pitera, M.J. (2014). Witness Tip: When Is It Appropriate for a Witness to Show Anger? Insights. Winner of LitigationWorld Pick of the Week.
- Leibold, J.M., Pitera, M.J., Price, J.M. & Dukart, J.Y. (2013). Attitudes toward Japanese corporations. For the Defense: Defense Research Institute.
- Pitera, M.J. & Wilinski, J. (2013). Connecting with your jury: Ways jurors learn, remember and make decisions. Presented to Defense Research Institute.
- Pitera, M.J., Cohen, R., Johnson, J., Smith P., Woods, C. (2012). Rainmakers – Social anomalies, genetic aberrations, well-trained salespeople or just really good at what they do? Presentation for the DuPont Legal Network Marketing and Referral Conference.
- Pitera, M.J. (2012). Understanding the modern juror in product liability litigation. Presentation to Husch Blackwell Product Liability Group.
- Rupp, T., Pitera, M.J., McQuin, R.S., Hudson, L., Stewart, M.R. (2011). Effective opening statements. Panel presentation at Kansas Association of Defense Counsel.