Jury Communication: 10 Tips to Make Sure the Jury Takes the Right Notes

Orange Pencil on a blank notepad with metal spiral with lots of copy space, isolated on a white background with shadow.

Most judges allow jurors to take notes during trials. At the commencement of the trial, the jury is handed small notepads and pencils for note taking.  The judge also typically gives the jury some basic administrative instructions about what to do with the notebooks when they are finished each day. Once those notepads are handed out, though, the jurors are largely on their own in terms of determining what to write down and when.  Ideally, jurors will write down any …

Do this Before You Approach the Witness

Portrait of tiger

In our lives as trial lawyers, we are often required to approach witnesses on the stand.  Judges typically safeguard the space between attorney and witness — as sort of a demilitarized zone.  As early as law school trial advocacy class, students learn about the important custom of asking the court before approaching the witness. I confess that I have always secretly resented the idea that I should request permission before I can approach a witness.  Though I understand why judges …

In Jury Selection, Remember Your Math

Professor in glasses thinking about math formulas

I recently had the opportunity to observe the jury selection process for a trial at my local courthouse.  The civil case was not terribly complex, nor was it a high-profile case.  The jury for the trial would consist of 6 jurors and 2 alternates.  Each side would have 3 peremptory strikes. For some reason, the judge had decided to bring in a 50-person venire from which to select the jurors. As I watched the attorneys in the case furiously scribbling …

Avoid This Trial Technology Trap

Bear trap with laptop lure

Trial technology has become a crucial tool for today’s attorneys.  Those who avoid trial preparation and trial presentation technology quickly find themselves disadvantaged when litigating against those who use it well.  Litigating cases without good trial presentation and preparation technology is like going to a war with one or both hands tied behind your back. There are many good options available in trial technology packages — with every manner of bells and whistles for solving the problems we confront as …

This Simple Statement to the Jury Will Help Win Your Jury Trial

puzzle piece in hand

Your goal is to win your jury trial.  And the road to the verdict is fraught with anxiety.  Of course, the attorneys and clients are anxious. Witnesses are also anxious.  Courtroom personnel are often anxious. It might surprise you, though, that the members of the jury are anxious too. The jurors are concerned about following the evidence, and whether they will be tested regarding their understanding of legal terminology.  They are worried they will appear less capable compared to other …

At a Jury Trial, the Jurors are Watching . . . You

close up photo of woman's eye

Justice may be blind, but the jury sees everything. After winning a verdict in a recent three-week trial, I had the opportunity to speak with members of the jury.  One of the things they told me was that they had grown skeptical, even distrustful, of my opposing counsel. When I asked why, they all referred to a brief incident they witnessed in the courtroom. My opposing counsel was getting ready to question a witness, and — not intentionally, I’m sure …

The Biggest Mistake Attorneys Make with Trial Presentation Technology

Online internet auction. Gavel on laptop.

The biggest mistake attorneys make with trial presentation technology is failing to drill with it. I don’t mean practice with it.  I mean drill with it. Most litigators understand that they should not go into a trial with technology unless they are comfortable using it.  But, while many attorneys and their legal assistants understand the basics of the technology, they are often not practiced enough to act quickly if the judge or opposing counsel throw them a sudden curve ball. …

In Presenting Evidence to the Jury, Trial Exhibit Numbers are Crucial

abstract 3d illustration of random number, orange and blue color

As litigators, we strive to present evidence clearly to the jury, so they have the necessary information to render a verdict in favor of our client.  We want jurors to hear a trial exhibit number, and then write it down, so they can refer to it in their notes during deliberation.  Although this seems like an obvious proposition, I’m surprised how few litigators pay attention to highlighting exhibit numbers in their presentations for jurors. When I say “highlighting”, I mean …

At Video Depositions, Even a Glass of Water Can be Trouble

Drinking water is poured into a glass

One of my favorite discovery tools is the video deposition.  I take video depositions of virtually every witness in every case. I show video excerpts at almost every trial. Most of us at one point or another in our legal  careers will have a client whose deposition is taken and simultaneously recorded on video. Of course, it’s important to prepare the client for the types of questions that might be asked and to understand, generally, how a deposition works. But, …

The “Ostrich Syndrome” – Don’t Hide from Bad News Before Trial

Female Ostrich (Struthio camelus), Kalahari desert, South Africa

All litigators want to win. Trial preparation is an ordeal that easily saps our physical and emotional resources at times. It’s natural, then, to want to surround trial preparation with as much positive energy as possible. But, how do you handle “bad news” about your case before trial? It will often determine the difference between winning or losing. When we discover a “bad fact”, a negative piece of evidence, a hole in our case, a less-than-helpful witness — or any …