How do you prepare for jury trials on highly emotional subjects?
Mesa, AZ personal injury attorney Robert L. Greer talks about how to approach talking to juries and the right way to create a convincing argument.
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Usually when you have a catastrophic injury when you’ve got an amputation or someone that’s left a paraplegic or they’ve lost a child or any wrongful death case emotion just permeates the courtroom. Lawyers who represent plaintiffs in those cases have to be very careful to present a case factually without being over the top. In other words, a plaintiff’s lawyer cannot argue passionately and with great emotion and over exaggerate something because they lose credibility, particularly if it’s a very modest injury.
On the other hand, if you’re defending such a case you cannot attack someone who’s terribly injured because that makes a jury angry at you. You’ve got to simply treat the facts as they are and be empathetic and understanding without appearing to be cold and calloused. Juries are very smart. They can tell real tragedy and the little things that are talked about in a trial are very moving and very powerful. They don’t decide the case but they’re part of the process and a how a lawyer presents it is very important because it draws upon people’s innate compassion.
And by compassion I don’t mean over the top sympathy it means the ability to see things from the perspective of someone who’s gone through it. And to have enough detail over enough time to really empathize and to step into the shoes of somebody. That enables them to really see the tragedy and to arrive at a fair result, a fair verdict. Even when you’re defending a case like that you have to show empathy and compassion and then suggest that money isn’t always the answer and we’ve got to be fair to both sides. That sort of thing is always part of a case involving great tragedy.
Judges try very hard to eliminate over the top rhetoric and anger and those sorts of things that would enflame a jury. And a jury can see through that stuff anyway if you try to overdo it.