Monday, October 31, 2016

Two Easy Tips For Persuasive Expert Testimony

Experts are experts in their subject matter, but not necessarily experts at testifying, as many a lawyer has found out at trial, much to his/her dismay.

One way to make sure your expert testifies in a way that will persuade the jurors, is to have your expert formulate "umbrella statements." These are statements that give an overview of what is to follow.

For example, an expert might begin with the umbrella statement "Upon examination, I found significant differences between X and Y," rather than launching immediately into a description of the features of X, not mentioning Y until 10 minutes later, and not discussing the differences between the two until another 10 minutes has elapsed. Jurors need to be guided. Without the benefit of an "umbrella statement," jurors don't know what they should be listening for. Your expert's excellent points may be lost in the clutter.

Another way is to have your experts bottom line key points as they conclude a given
segment of testimony. Phrases such as "To sum it all up," or "What this means is" are helpful in introducing a concise, condensed, easy-to-remember version of  the critical point just made.

With a jury, clarity and easy-to-grasp concepts/points make for the best testimony.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Through The Jurors' Eyes: Persuasion 101

Regardless of how many times jurors are admonished not to do their own investigating, they do it all the time. When discovered, most often the case ends up in a mistrial, lengthy appeals or retrials. But these juror actions also tell us that lawyers are not doing their job. It’s time to stop dinging the jurors for attempting to ferret out the truth on their own, complaining that jurors are too uneducated or uninterested to understand a case as presented, and instead, give jurors the clarification they seek.

It doesn’t take much, especially when you bear in mind that visuals are the most convincing, quickest way to get your point across. For example, In People vs. Victoria Samantha Cook, CA Dist. 4 Ct. App., Div. 2, (Mar. 19, 2013), a juror bought toy cars during a deliberation lunch break, which the juror then used to reenact the accident central to the case. How complicated would it have been for the lawyers to demonstrate their interpretation of the accident with the simple expedient of toy cars? Or some other equally inexpensive and yet persuasive visual.

Do your best to see the case through the jurors’ eyes, understanding that jurors want to see for themselves whatever it is you claim is your best evidence. A little effort in that direction will take you a long way toward a winning case.