Some random thoughts about trial
My wife Lita and I flew to Scottsdale, Arizona for Christmas. I grabbedsome materials I had stacked up for reading when I got time and had a chance to read through it. Here are a few thoughts I thought worth sharing
One thing I read was a thin little pamhlet like book by attorney J.W. Donovan "The Twenty one Rules for Trial Success." It was a pretty elementary book but, a few ideas are worth repeating. It reported that ina poll of some 1200 jurors conducted in Maryland they listed these things as favorable in lawyers during trial:
1.Jurors liked a lawyer who was (a) well prepared and (b) authoratative
2.Lawyers who (a) kept things moving (b) appeared confident (c) were deliberate (d) didn’t fumble around
(1)Showed courtesy to witnesses
(2)Had enthusiasm for their case and their client
(3)Did not show friendliness to opposing counsel (which they felt made the trial seem like a game)
I liked a story about a lawyer who interviewed a group of young men for a clerk’s position. He told them that a farmer had a red squirrel
that got into his barn and ate corn. He made up his mind that he would kill the squirrel. Seeing the squirrel he fired his shotgun but it started a fire so he grabbed a pain of water to put it out. The hired hand rushed to help and he was almost trapped by the flames, then a passerby arrived and there was confusion smoke and fire. The lawyer asked if they had questions. "Did they put out the fire?" asked one young man. "Did anyone die?" asked another. "Did the barn burn down?" asked another. The lawyer said to one young man who hadn’t said anything "what is your question?" The boy said: "I want to know what happened to that squirrel?" The lawyer said, "you are hired. You weren’t distracted by the fire, the confusion and the smoke. You kept your eye on the squirrel." The author suggests lawyers should do the same thing in trial. Keep their eye on the one majorpoint and not be distracted.
In an article on persuasion the author suggests that we need to keep; in mind:
1.We are generally better visual than auditory learners
2.The first and last things in a series are learned better than those in the middle
3.The attention span narrows under stress, fatigue, and boredom
4.Unique events are burned into our memories
5.Metaphors, similies, and stories are forgotten last
6.Sympathy appeals leave us cold
7.Sincereity is the trait of greatest appeal
The article says that lawyers should avoid intensifiers like "very, very" or heges like "sort of" We are not convinced by meaningless generalities but a descriptiion of attributes is persuasive such as "a warm, friendly, kind and good man"
Jurors judged the most persuasive testimony to be that when the witness was encouraged to give a narrative rather then the question and answer controlled examination.