Last week, Gerry Spence posted Winning – the simple secret, in which he says the most important thing that we have when talking to jurors is credibility: “So how can you win your next case? How can you win your next argument—in the courtroom or at home? How real and how credible can you be?”
Soon after, A Public Defender offered us The secret to winning: Gideon-style, which consists of:
Gideon’s secret to winning: Knowing your rear from your face, or, preparation.
I mean, really, that’s your only shot. Know the State’s case inside out. Know the allegations, the witnesses, the police reports, the statute and your theory of defense. You have to prepare, prepare, prepare.
Gideon then tagged a few other bloggers to offer our advice on the topic as well, and my response is here. This turned out to be an interesting project, and I am glad for it – I have learned a thing or two from our fellow bloggers and Hostis Civitas is right, everyone has their own style and methods.
Houston criminal defense lawyer Mark Bennett tells us the secret to winning – Bennett style: solve the puzzle with which the case presents you, which requires inspiration:
prepare just enough, then stop. Don’t just do something, sit there. Play with the kids. Just play. Read a book — something non-law-related. Write a poem. Take the dog for a walk. Get some exercise. Sleep.
Public defender Hostis Civitas says that “rather than discovering our story we are busy retelling their story;” we need to throw out the government’s story and develop our client’s story – an excellent point considering how often attorneys end up relying on what is written in the incident reports. He also points out that what works for me may not work for you and may not work for anyone else – everyone has their own method and their own style.
AHCL gives us a prosecutor’s perspective, with excellent points for prosecutor or defense attorney: 1) Be yourself; 2) Get off the high horse; 3) Know the facts of the case like you were there when it happened; 4) Issue spot, issue spot, issue spot; 5) Meet with every last witness you are going to put on the stand; 6) Get yourself some theme music; 7) Don’t be afraid to show a sense of humor during lighter moments; 8) Always be the “Good Guy;” 9) Be passionate; and 10) Be right.
New York defense lawyer Scott Greenfield’s advice is “to see each case, each defendant, as unique. Approach it as if it’s the only case you’ve ever done, the only defendant you’ve ever represented, and figure out what makes it different from all the rest.”
Maryland defense attorney Jon Katz says that
. . . secrets are not really secret, but are readily available information, open things, but things that tend to pass unnoticed . . .
In the same vein, there probably are not any secrets to winning trials, but there are skill sets to learn, revelations to find, new levels of caring to attain for clients, more fearlessness to gain, more internal and external journeys to take, more joy to experience on the path, more ego to shed, more willingness to collaborate with other lawyers and non-lawyers in seeking the path to victory, and more of the tapping of the joy, fearlessness, and giggling of the child within.
My trio on this path is the overlapping lessons and practices from the Trial Lawyers College, t’ai chi, and the peace and harmony experienced even when walking into the eye of the storm as exemplified by Jun Yasuda.
Omaha criminal defense lawyer David Terrell remembers Don Fiedler’s performances at NCDC, and his lesson which was:
Work hard, behind the scenes, until the performance on the stage looks effortless and perfectly summarizes your client’s story for the jury.
Although I am glad for all of the responses to Gideon’s call, I’ll leave you again with Spence’s most recent posts, as he did after all write the book on winning your case: you must not give your opponent permission to beat you, and attempting to frighten or anger your adversaries will only result in motivating them, making your case more difficult.
Thanks to all.