Tone it down

Unlike what we see on t.v., silver-tongued, brash, flashy, charismatic lawyers, don't always do well in trial.  Jurors assume we have been trained to manipulate and persuade them.  They guard themselves against us.  By gosh – they aren’t going to fall for those darned lawyer tricks!

The insurance companies have figured this out.  Companies like Allstate keep stables of "in-house" lawyers on their payroll.  Though some of them are skilled.  Most of them are not.  But don't take it from me.

After trial, one of the jurors who did not make it onto the panel contacted me.  He worked for Microsoft and asked if I would have breakfast with him.  He wanted to know why I didn't choose him to sit as a juror.  We talked for an hour about his thoughts on voir dire.  He admitted it was probably good for my side that I did not select him.  He also said:  “On one hand I wanted to be on the jury.  But I was concerned because I didn’t want to sit through a trial with a defense lawyer who was so poor.  I couldn’t bear the thought of having to listen to that.    I felt that I might overcompensate for her, feel sorry for the defendant, and that in an attempt to give him a fair shot I would lean over to his side too much.”

That's right.  This juror was worried he would rule for the defense to make up for the defense lawyer being so awful.  And indeed she was.  Halted, mumbled, disjointed words would softly fall out of her mouth onto the floor.  Simply excruciating.  But at the end of the day the jurors didn't hold her performance against her.   She was so terrible she became credible.

Photo:  This look may work for a 70s disco party - but not for trial.

Photo:  This look may work for a 70s disco party - but not for trial.