Friday 30 May 2014

How to be creative for successful conduct of Trial?

It's always sunny and beautiful in Florida...
Except for when we have a torrential downpour, like we did yesterday.
Trees were knocked down, the backyard flooded, and there was a deluge of water cascading over the edge of the roof.
My son ran outside with his bright red Lightning McQueen umbrella to play in the rain (it's much cooler than my stuffy, traditional black umbrella), but after about 30 seconds of standing under the umbrella and using it the way that it was designed to be used, he got bored, and decided to do this:
He flipped the umbrella upside down and let the water fill the umbrella, then tipped it over to pour the water out onto the ground.

Honestly, it looked a lot more fun than the normal way of using an umbrella.
It also got me thinking about how to be a bit more creative in the courtroom, and hopefully it will help you, too.
Tradition certainly plays an important role in the courtroom, and there's never an appropriate time to act improperly in court.
However, it's important to realize that doing things "the way they've always been done" may not necessarily be the most persuasive way of presenting your case, and your case may benefit from using something differently from its intended use. Here are three examples of using "upside down umbrellas" to persuade:
1. The swinging doorThe intended use of the swinging door at the bar is to keep audience members from entering the well of the courtroom.
But, with a little creative effort, I converted it into the front door of an apartment in a murder case that I prosecuted years and years ago. From opening statement through direct examinations and into closing arguments, I used the swinging door as the entrance to the murder scene, so that we could position each person inside the "apartment" (the courtroom well) and show how the action unfolded.
2. The courtroom doorsThe courtroom doors are supposed to be used to keep people out of the courtroom during trial.
Instead, with the help of a trial partner, we flung them open so that we could demonstrate the 40' distance between the two parties, marching a measuring tape from the edge of the jury box (always a good starting point for demonstrating distances) to the hallway outside the courtroom.
3. The chair at counsel table. The chair is supposed to keep my butt in place while the trial unfolds. But it was far more effective for me to stand on top of the chair and reach towards the ceiling when I needed to illustrate a point for the judge during a hearing.
The important point is that you should give yourself a little license to be creative and to use your established tools in new and creative ways so that you can persuade your factfinders.
The next time that you're in the courtroom, add an "upside down umbrella" to your presentation, and see how creative you can be.
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