“It’s About the Jury, Stupid”

Those of you over 30 will remember James Carville’s message to the Clinton campaign in 1992:  "It’s about the economy, stupid."  

Well, trying cases is about persuading jurors to your client’s point of view. Sure, you must prove-each-element-of-your-cause-of-action-by-a-preponderance-of-the-evidence, but you must do so in a way that keeps the jury engaged, that motivates them to act favorably to your client.

Maxwell Kennerly, one of my favorite bloggers, has written a great post on this subject.  He explains that a trial lawyer must


  • tell the client’s story;
  • tell the client’s story coherently;
  • tell the client’s story concisely;
  • tell the client’s story persuasively; and,
  • introduce all evidence necessary to the claim or defense in compliance with the rules of evidence;


      one witness at a time.

Maxwell  then shares with us a memo written by David Mamet, a television producer of The Unit and other shows, and challenges us to incorporate Marnet’s demands of his writers into our trial preparation.   As Maxwell explains, this memo helps us understand that the jury, like a television audience,  "must see all of the evidence necessary to the case, but if the testimony is not propelling the jury forward with a simple, straightforward purpose, then it is either superfluous or incorrectly prepared."

I learn more from Maxwell’s blog posts than I do from the typical CLE presentation.  Thanks, Maxwell, for sharing your knowledge with us.

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