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Merrie Jo Pitera, PhD

Senior Jury Consulting & Strategy Advisor


Dr. Merrie Jo Pitera serves as the Senior Jury Consulting & Strategy Advisor at IMS Legal Strategies. She is a psychology and communication expert who specializes in complex litigation and trial consulting. With more than 30 years of experience in the field, Merrie Jo has managed hundreds of cases and understands what is at stake.

Merrie Jo was previously CEO of Litigation Insights, a nationally recognized jury consulting and visual communication firm. Litigation Insights joined IMS in August 2021 to provide clients with best-in-industry support through every phase of litigation. When speaking to the integration, Merrie Jo shared, “This is a powerful combination of culturally consistent, top-performing trial services professionals. Together, we will build on our strong respective legacies to cultivate a deeper bench of talent and resources for our clients.”

Merrie Jo knows how to help IMS clients build impactful case themes and perform at their highest levels. Her areas of expertise include intellectual property, employment, commercial, environmental, transportation, insurance bad faith, and product liability/personal injury litigation. She is a perceptive listener and observer of jury dynamics and sentiments, and she provides clear insights into how they are likely to impact the decision makers in a case. Merrie Jo’s insight and guidance has been deemed “invaluable” by multiple clients.  

In addition to being a jury specialist, Merrie Jo 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 and publications on jury selection, witness communication strategies, and trial preparation. In February 2016, Merrie Jo published a book entitled Storytelling for the Defense: The Defense Attorney’s Courtroom Guide to Beating Plaintiffs at Their Own Game alongside her co-author, Dr. Barbara Hillmer.

Merrie Jo received a BA in psychology from Clemson University before completing her MA in social psychology and PhD in communication studies at the University of Kansas. She is a member of the American Society of Trial Consultants. Merrie Jo resides in the metro Kansas City area with her husband, John. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling and practicing her long-range precision shooting skills.

Notable publications and presentations:

  • Pitera, M.J., Metz, D., & Ursu, J.W. (2023). Using Counterfactuals to Shift Jurors’ Hindsight BiasLaw360, July 12, 2023.
  • Cuculich, J., Metz, D., & Pitera, M.J. (2023). Is Online Jury Research Right for My Case? USLAW Magazine (Winter), 20-21.
  • Pitera, M.J. (2021). How Do I Become a Successful Expert Witness? Insights.
  • Ursu, J., Webber, C., Pitera, M.J., & Schiltz, P. (Honorable) (2021). Can You Handle The Truth? CLE Webinar for Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP. May 12, 2021.
  • Pitera, M.J. (2021). How to Help Your Witness Overcome Hindsight BiasLaw360, March 25, 2021.
  • Polavin, N. & Pitera, M.J. (2021). What Causes Nuclear Verdicts? USLAW Magazine (Spring), 38-39.
  • Pitera, M.J., Ong, K., Franco Busby, A., & Price, J. (2020). Tips on Virtual Expert Witness Deposition Testimony – Part 1.  DRI: The Voice, vol. 19(47).
  • Seiler, B., Lynch, T., Waxman, S., Sugayan, C., & Pitera, M.J. (2020). High-Stakes Litigation and Investigations: Steering Our Clients Through Shifting Tides. Presentation to NACUA – National Association of College and University Attorneys, June 24, 2020 Virtual Conference.
  • Cialkowski, A., & Pitera, M.J. (2020). Trying a Case to Millennial Jurors. Presentation to the Association of Ski Defense Attorneys Legal Skills Day, Big Sky, Montana.
  • Pitera, M.J. (2019).  How to Use Counterfactuals to Combat (or Leverage) Jurors’ Hindsight Bias.  Insights.
  • Torline, S. & Pitera, M.J. (2019). The Art of Persuasion: Storytelling Matters. KCMBA’s 46th Annual Bench-Bar & Boardroom Conference, Branson, MO
  • 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.

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Featured Insights by Merrie Jo Pitera, PhD

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