Two words define the venires the modern trial lawyer encounters: diverse and complex.
Today’s jurors have more complex layers of knowledge, opinions, and attitudes on more topics from more sources than ever before. And even within apparent ethnic, religious, socio-economic, and political groups, a staggering range of diversity exists.
So how does one find unifying themes and ideas that resonate with such a heterogeneous group?
The answers are here, in this collection of trial-ready quotes.
These proverbs, aphorisms, metaphors, quips, and quotations have been used by trial lawyers, judges, jurors, and others I’ve encountered over my career working on big money cases in venues ranging from, as the subtitle implies, the backwoods to the big cities.
Success in courtrooms across the country has proven time and time again:
These phrases work.
A simple phrase can become the linchpin of your case, a proxy for verdict!
When skillfully used, the universal appeal of these words can tie an entire case together and unite a diverse jury around your theme in simple, hard-to-argue-with terms. Because they speak to universal truths, they engage emotion--they speak to the heart.
Here you will find well over 200 quotes that can help you attack the other side’s experts, the greed of the opposing party, the contradictory or nonsensical nature of your adversary’s claims, and more.
These sayings can be used in jury selection, opening statements, in examination of witnesses both friendly and adverse, in closing arguments, and even in briefs and motions to the Court. You are limited only by your creativity (which this book is intended to help stoke).
The quotes are made more powerful by the phrases you use after them. Use your own language and delivery. Take, for example, the following Arabic proverb:
“Don’t pour away your water on the strength of a mirage.”
might be followed with:
“Confirm it—wait for the evidence, wait until you hear the whole story!
Don’t be fooled by the smooth and moving mirage of the rhetoric you first hear.”
And so on…
Almost all the selections in this book can be used effectively in jury selection, not only to identify jurors open (or resistant) to your story, but also to set a trap for the opposition, or to foreshadow and engrain a positive theme for your client. Ideally, the quotes are then repeated in closing with persuasive argument. To the extent they can be tied to the jury instructions (i.e. credibility of witnesses, sympathy, etc), all the better.
For example, in jury selection, consider the following axiom:
“Money makes people funny.” Anonymous
Counsel might walk potential jurors though it like this:
Has anyone ever heard that saying?
How many of you agree, that money does indeed, make people “funny”?
What does that mean, it makes people funny?
What are some of the ways money makes people funny?
Do you think people might exaggerate something, or even tell an outright lie, to get money?
Ask yourself, can you reverse a quote to make an unexpected point?
“A picture is worth 10,000 words.”
Not always! Exceptions: Photoshop, perspective (tourists “propping up” the Leaning Tower of Pisa, etc.)
A quote can turn your adversary’s strength against them:
“In medicine, if it wasn’t documented, it didn’t happen.”
This is a weapon plaintiffs typically wield in medical malpractice cases. But, perhaps it can be used proactively in jury selection to generate, identify, and justify cause strikes for the defense? Think about it.
Another example: Short circuiting hindsight bias is the key to defending almost all negligence cases, but especially professional liability and breach-of-duty claims.
The first quote featured this book, by management guru Peter Drucker, is a great example:
“Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window.”
Can you combine two or three quotes to make one point?
Be creative. Consider, these two apparently unrelated quotes can set up a full-on-frontal and stealthy side-attack on a plaintiff’s standard of care expert:
“In the presence of Fate, the physician becomes a fool.” Arabian proverb
“If the world should blow itself up, the last audible voice would be that of an expert saying it can’t be done.” Peter Ustinov
In closing arguments, try using “and in this case” or, “but in this case” after a quote:
“If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” Abraham Maslow
And in this case the defense keeps hammering the only nail they have which is …
But this case is about the weight of the evidence, not just …
I encourage you to take your time with this book--meander through it and chew on the words. I have purposely put only one quotation per page in an effort to slow you down. Many times, I have been surprised to pass over a quote, only to come back and recognize a fresh approach to a current problem staring me right in the face.
So please, despite the fact you are almost surely a “Type A” and want to, don’t rush through it. These words will work magic if you let them sink in.
One final note: The purpose of this book is to help you simplify and broaden the appeal of your message. I fear my comments might distract you from the simple power and beauty of these quotes, or from finding your own creative way of incorporating them into your cases, so, for the most part, I present them unadorned.
P.S. It is my sincere hope and expectation that you find “gold” in the following quotes for your next trial. If you do, please drop me a line at Danjr@bestevidence.com and let me know what quote(s) you used and to what end. I love hearing how creative great trial lawyers can be!