4 Keys to Using Your Opening and Closing to Persuade

ThinkstockPhotos-477432677Both the opening statement and the closing argument should be used to persuade. (No, it’s not all about direct and cross.) The adages about the importance of first impressions and last words are worth heeding. Continue reading

Trial Logistics: 4 Things to Set Up Before Heading to Court

Any trial strategy should incorporate the mundane. Not only must you get to court on time, but everything you need to try the case also has to be there, at your fingertips. Here are four things you should consider and arrange for before you head to court. Continue reading

Don’t Dodge—Defuse: Use Your Opening Statement to Handle Problem Areas

ThinkstockPhotos-140270511Almost every case has problems—sometimes they are analogous to bombs waiting to drop on your case. The key is whether you show them to the jury and simultaneously defuse them, or whether the opposition drops them with glee. Continue reading

12 Must-Do Tasks Before Cross-Examination

Few attorneys have the time or budget to do detailed preparation for cross-examination of every witness. And even if the budget makes it possible, time spent on other aspects of trial preparation will force counsel to take shortcuts. When time is short, these 12 tasks are the bare minimum necessary for cross-examination preparation. Continue reading

Make Your Argument, But Don’t Argue with the Judge

ThinkstockPhotos-57277848An an attorney and an officer of the court, you sometimes have competing duties: to represent your clients zealously and to maintain respect for the court. When it comes to a disagreeable court ruling, you’ll need to make your strongest argument while remaining respectful to the judge. The key is to argue without arguing. Continue reading

Size Up Your Adversary

ThinkstockPhotos-494299501When it comes to litigating a case, your client’s objectives are only half the story. If you want to gain an advantage, you’ll also need to successfully assess your adversary’s goals, capabilities, and willingness to fight. Continue reading

Demonstrative Evidence: When You Want to Show and Tell

82770181An episode of This American Life described the failed effort to get a Tic-tac-toe-playing chicken into evidence in the death penalty case of a mentally ill man with a very low IQ. Defense counsel was trying to rebut a psychiatrist’s testimony that the defendant was aware he was going to be executed based on his beating her in a game of Tic-tac-toe. We’ll never know who would have won the game; the court refused to admit the chicken because it “would degrade the dignity of the court.” Although the chicken didn’t work out, demonstrative evidence can be a very powerful courtroom tool. Continue reading

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