24 Mistakes That Make For a DeMONSTERative Evidence Nightmare

Posted by Ken Lopez

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Demonstrative evidence is a general term for evidence introduced in litigation that is neither spoken testimony nor “real” evidence like an actual murder weapon. Demonstrative evidence is introduced in order to make evidence and facts in a case easier for the judge or jury to understand.

Here are some common mistakes to avoid.

  1. Waiting until it is too late. From the very beginning, plan your case with an eye toward its presentation to a jury. See our article on using a dual-track strategy in trial preparation.
  2. Cheating on your charts. There are many ways to lie using charts, including axis changes, using logarithmic scales, cherry picking data, and much more. These “black-hat” techniques are not only inappropriate but if you get caught, they are likely to draw sanctions or worse.

Read more here:

http://www.a2lc.com/blog/bid/60819/24-Mistakes-That-Make-For-a-DeMONSTERative-Evidence-Nightmare

Simplify and Emphasize in Litigation Graphics

By

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In oral argument, a litigator has very limited time—she needs to hit the high points and move on. She must communicate enough information to convince the judge or jury of her argument, yet must avoid getting mired in details that will only confuse.

Good litigation graphics can counter this time crunch by allowing an attorney to communicate clearly and quickly. The adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” reflects the truth that our brains quickly process and understand images.

To support an argument, graphics should be tightly tied to the key points of the advocate’s message.

Read more here:

http://cogentlegal.com/blog/2013/10/simplify-emphasize-in-litigation-graphics/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+CogentLegalBlog+%28Cogent+Legal+Blog%29

Know the Difference Between Debate and Trial Advocacy

By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm:

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There is a tendency, particularly within law, to equate argumentation and persuasion: How do you persuade? By offering arguments, of course. But that isn’t all of it, or even necessarily the half of it. You win the argument when your point cannot be refuted, but you persuade only when your target is convinced. Over the years, most formats of academic debate have clearly chosen argument over persuasion. No self-respecting debate judge would admit that they are siding with the winner because they more fully understand and accept that side’s advocacy. Instead they will say, often in excruciating detail…

Read more here:

http://www.persuasivelitigator.com/2013/10/know-the-difference-between-debate-and-trial-advocacy.html

TED Talks – Elizabeth Loftus: The Fiction of Memory

Memory is a remarkable and fragile phenomenon. Or so says Elizabeth Loftus, a researcher and psychologist whose TED talk is the basis for this blog post.

Memory is an important component of our lives as actors and performers and certainly an important part of the lives of lawyers and their witnesses. Attorneys rely on their clients and their witnesses for memories of events, contracts, their actions and the actions of all the folks who are a part of the trial story. For many years, the research has shown that eyewitness testimony can be remarkably UNRELIABLE. Elizabeth Loftus in this enlightening talk expands on this through her own research.

Read more here:

http://legalstage.com/2013/10/03/ted-talks-elizabeth-loftus-the-fiction-of-memory/

Consider How You Come Across With the Volume Off

By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm:

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We know communication is visual and not just verbal. But when litigators think of that, they tend to think of demonstrative exhibits and technology. But what about themselves? As a speaker, you’re making a visual impression as well. Most know the basics: stand up straight, look the jury or judge in the eye, use a few gestures. But in practice, attorneys want to expect that in court, content is king and what we say matters more than how we look when we say it. But some surprising research shows that more than we expect is coming through the visual channel.

The studies use the technique of asking research participants to assess a communicator without the aid of sound. Watching a music competition with the sound off, for example, (Tsay, 2013) both amateur and professional musicians were able to correctly predict the competition winners, and did so at a level that was better than those who heard and those who both heard and saw the performance. Similarly, experimental participants unfamiliar with the candidates were able to identify the election winner after simply watching ten-second silent video clips of a gubernatorial debate (Benjamin & Shapiro, 2009). As with the music competition research, turning the sound on tended to worsen the accuracy.

 

Read more here:

http://www.persuasivelitigator.com/2013/09/consider-how-you-come-across-with-the-volume-off.html

Will Being Folksy and Low-Tech Help You Win a Case?

by Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

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“I generally delegate the preparation of litigation graphics, and I tend to keep things pretty low-tech anyway.”

To be fair, this is the way cases have been tried for a very long time, and the partner had had a great deal of success with this approach. So, what’s wrong?

What’s wrong is that jurors’ expectations have changed enormously in just the last few years. Jurors expect a trial presentation to be polished and more like the nightly news than like a corporate PowerPoint. They expect a trial lawyer to be polished and well-practiced, more like Brian Williams than a dull CLE presenter. This rural Arkansas jury said it better than I ever could when they responded to a question about the use of trial technology by saying, “Today is technology. That’s what it’s all about.”

Read more here:

http://www.a2lc.com/blog/bid/67259/will-being-folksy-and-low-tech-help-you-win-a-case?source=Blog_Email_%5BWill%20Being%20Folksy%20an%5D

Nailing a Presentation in the First 60 Seconds

Whether you are making a presentation at your local library or to senior executives at your firm, the first 60 seconds set you up for success or failure.

Everything most precious to me in this world is the result of the first 60 seconds of a speech I gave on a cold day in Philadelphia. It was my turn to speak during a Wharton MBA Toastmasters program; I would be given a topic, and then would have to begin without advance preparation.

My topic: explain why MBAs aren’t all greedy jerks.

Terrified of boring the audience, I decided to flip the topic and embrace the dark side. My speech was a rant about how MBAs are all-powerful masters of the universe (note to readers: I was kidding.)

The first 60 seconds you spend in front of an audience are pivotal. If you’re nervous or too excited, time can be a blur. But this is when the audience decides whether or not they like you, and it’s your best opportunity to get in a groove that will guide you through the rest of your presentation.

I’d like to make the following suggestions:

Plan your opening in advance. You should know exactly…

Read more here:

http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130918033719-36792-nailing-a-presentation-in-the-first-60-seconds

Communicate More Effectively: Tune Your Witness’s Tone of Voice

Tune Your Witness’s Tone of Voice

By Dr. Shelley Spiecker:

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A few days ago I was helping prepare a successful CEO for testimony in an upcoming arbitration. The case boiled down to a dispute between two shareholders with one advocating for dissolution of their agreement and the other seeking to keep the agreement in force. My client’s testimony and credibility would be crucial to the case. A high self-monitor, he quickly picked up on my recommendations for posture, eye contact, and other key nonverbal credibility cues. One impediment remained – a tendency to end sentences with an upward vocal inflection. While infrequent, this “uptalking” had the overall effect of making him appear uncertain and less believable than desired.

Ironically, while vocal characteristics speak volumes in terms of impression formation, they can often be one of the more difficult aspects of witness presentation to change. Sager suggests that scientifically voice sounds different to the speaker than it does to the listener, a key reason it can be difficult for many witnesses to self-correct their vocal cues.

Recent research suggests that making the effort to assess vocal quality and enhance vocal effectiveness can pay off.

Read more here:

http://www.persuasivelitigator.com/2013/05/what-are-your-witnesses-saying-when-they-speak.html

Beware of the Anti-Theme in Your Case

By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm:

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We’ve written frequently on themes: those little nuggets of language and meaning that distill a case to its persuasive essence. As consultants, we create themes even more frequently, trying to find the right message to leverage a case’s greatest strengths while minimizing or reframing its most important weaknesses. By definition, a theme is a simple message that helps an audience see your case in its most favorable terms. But based on some recent research, there is also a mirror image of that: an ‘anti-theme’ in the form of the condensed message that would turn off your audience and turn them away from your case. Considering these anti-themes when working on the contours of your message can help you know what to avoid and what to preempt in your trial strategy.

The study (Gromet, Kunreuther & Larrick, 2013) focuses on consumer choices…

Read more here: http://www.persuasivelitigator.com/2013/05/beware-the-anti-theme.html

Ask a Mentor: The Importance of Listening

By Edward Romero – January 15, 2013

Many skills are needed for trial work. One that is often overlooked is the art of listening. As the late Dean Rusk reportedly said, “the best way to persuade people is with your ears—by listening to them.” This is good advice from a former lawyer, Rhodes Scholar, and the longest-serving United States secretary of state after Cordell Hull.

Like peeling an onion, understanding a case often consists of exposing multiple layers of long-forgotten facts that, when revealed, can be distressing, embarrassing, and emotionally painful. No one enjoys revealing secrets, especially those that are humiliating or that can lead to social stigma or imprisonment. Yet, a trial lawyer must do just that: glean from reluctant clients intimate and unpleasant facts that are needed to represent them properly. This is achieved by developing trust, and the best way to do this is by listening. People with legal problems want to talk. And the more they talk, the easier it becomes for them to disclose secrets and reveal confidences that have remained hidden, sometimes for years. In so doing, a client will develop confidence in his or her attorney, not because of the attorney’s experience in the subject matter, but because the attorney has taken the time to understand the client’s concerns and listen to the client’s fears. The attorney has become a confidant and, in so doing, has developed a trust with a client that might otherwise have taken a long time to develop

Read more here:

http://apps.americanbar.org/litigation/committees/minority/articles/fallwinter2013-0113-ask-a-mentor.html