A Winning Tip

A Winning Tip is jointly written by Dr. Noelle Nelson and Diane Rumbaugh. Dr. Nelson is a clinical psychologist, author, and consultant. Ms. Rumbaugh is a PR consultant and author. Together they provide helpful advice on trial proceedings.

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Despite the best efforts of all involved, jury instructions remain obscure and confusing to all but the most legalese-savvy jurors. Cases should be won or lost on their merits, but too often, cases are lost (or unsatisfactory verdicts obtained) because the jurors either did not understand the jury instructions, or how those jury instructions should be specifically applied to the

 Witnesses are nervous enough already at the thought of testifying. Being loaded down with 10 body-language directives from well-meaning attorneys doesn’t necessarily enhance their testimony.I have found that one simple directive ‘fixes’ a whole host of body-language problems. That is the “Power-Sit.”Simply put, the witness sits with their rear planted firmly in the “L” of the chair, which assures

 Jurors will not find for what they don’t understand. Simple, right? Yet laying your case out in such a way that jurors readily understand its ins and outs can be more challenging than it at first appears. You see, you may be so deeply steeped in your case, the issues of your case, the whys and wherefores of your

 The value of visuals in trial work is well established, in that images emphasize and clarify testimony or evidence. However, researchshows that visuals have impact in yet another way, which can be put to powerful use in the courtroom. Scientists in New Zealand and Canada examined what satirist Stephen Colbert calls “truthiness” – the feeling that something is true.

 Likeability shouldn’t matter in the courtroom. A lawyer’s personality should be irrelevant. The facts should be paramount, the only thing jurors attend to, but jurors are persuaded by a combination of factors. Facts are but one of many.Your likeability matters. Fortunately, this isn’t high school, and your likeability isn’t based on an indecipherable “cool factor.” Likeability is based on

In my ongoing research of what jurors think and how they decide cases, I read umpteen blogs, tweets and more authored by those who have served. Even though the original “CSI” television show and its many offshoots are long past (well, mostly), the “CSI effect” is remarkably enduring. One would do well to pay more attention to it. Simply put,

 Our world has become a ‘world-in-pictures’ with virtually everything translated into a visual format, or at the very least, accompanied by an icon or picture of some related sort. Given this reality, litigators have been encouraged to create visuals and graphics to support the presentation of their case, to the maximum allowed by the Court.All this is well and

 You would think that potential jurors, knowing full well that their written juror questionnaires will be scrutinized by the lawyers on both sides, if not also by trial consultants and other professionals, would respond to written queries the same as they do to oral voir dire. Certainly the same as jurors would respond to Your Honor at sidebar or

 First impressions are tremendously powerful. It takes less than a minute for you or your witnesses, to establish a credible first impression with the jurors, one which, once established, will be very difficult to change or alter in any way.Credibility is founded on trustworthiness. And those we trust display more trustworthy behaviors: more head nods, more eye contact, more