Monday, June 30, 2014

Use "Less is More" to Win in Court

Some courts are lenient with the amount of time allotted for a trial, some are not. It certainly can seem impossible, sometimes, to jam the amount of evidence and testimony you have in the number of hours permitted.

And yet, as is so often true of many things in life "Less is more."

This was strongly brought back to mind upon reading one alternate juror’s response to the verdict in the recent case against Trenton, Ohio Mayor Tony Mack,  as reported in The Trentonian. The alternate juror, Sherie Jackson, was distressed as she explained to the Judge in a letter post-trial, by what she considered a "rushed verdict" that was arrived at precipitously because: "In the jury room, I heard of plans to go on a cruise, to a relative's wedding and an overall atmosphere of impatience as the trial stretched on" — for a month and one day.

Jurors who may have had the patience to sit through long trials and long deliberations some 10 or so years ago, are no longer willing to be held hostage past what they consider a sufficient rendering of the facts and testimony. Our world has sped up tremendously: we abbreviate everything, we rely on bullets and headlines, we expect everything to happen quickly.

This is one of the great advantages of focus groups: attorneys are forced to reduce their entire case to a mere hour and a half, which puts a glaring spotlight on what is essential and what could be left aside.

Yes, you still must get across your points, you must still develop testimony and present evidence appropriately. However, in my experience, a great deal can often be trimmed from the presentation of your case without losing impact. If anything, you generally gain impact from being succinct.

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