Trial is a series of battles

It is very easy to become discouraged during a trial by something that goes wrong. But, it is important to remember that each witness, each event and each day is no more than a series of battles and not the war itself. If you let one thing that went wrong demoralize you, you are beaten. Maintaining confidence while seeing the problem is essential to winning cases, because no case goes in perfectly or exactly as you wanted it to be presented.

The Roman army was noted for "Roman persistency." It would never accept peace offers under defeat. In their glory days the Roman army was unconquerable because while they might lose a battle or even a campaign, they never quit by accepting it as a total defeat. They wore their enemies down by never quitting.

With common sense, that should be our attitude during a trial. Perhaps things didn’t go the way we planned or the witness turned out to be a disaster, nevertheless, we cannot show our disappointment and give up. We should be truthful with the jury or judge about what was obvious to them and not pretend it didn’t happen. However, we must not let that event be the end of our case either.

If our original cause was right and our client entitled to justice, we must plow ahead come what may with courage and determination. Jimmy Buffet wrote a song in 1978 "Cowboy in the Jungle" that has a chorus that expresses this well:

"Roll with the punches
Play all of his hunches
Make the best of whatever came his way
What he lacked in ambition
He made up with intuition
Plowing straight ahead come what may"

That should be our attitude during trials.

About Paul Luvera

Plaintiff trial lawyer for 50 years. Past President of the Inner Circle of Advocates & Washington State Trial Lawyers Association. Member American Board of Trial Advocates, American College of Trial Lawyers, International Academy, International Society of Barristers, member of the National Trial Lawyers Hall of Fame & speaker at Spence Trial College
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