Address Universal Core Values: Seven of Them

March 18th, 2019|

By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm: Our thinking about morality is often that it is some kind of divine spark in humans, or something spiritual that comes from within.  But what if it is merely a set of habits that developed as we evolved, a set of rules that originated and persisted because they helped societies to survive? If a set of moral values make it possible for societies to function, then it stands to reason that societies would universally value them. This perspective on codified cooperation is called “mutualism,” and it finds what may be definitive support in a recent broad-based survey conducted

Trial Witnesses, Un-Lead the Questions

March 14th, 2019|

By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm: When testifying, there are some situations where a “less is more” rule applies. In a deposition, for example, you don’t want to aid the other side, and will often prefer conciseness. However, when undergoing cross-examination before a jury in trial, less isn’t more…it is less. That is, if you limit yourself to simple “yes” answers, then you have less control (with your adversary choosing all the words) less power (since you’re just confirming the facts that opposing counsel has selected), and less overall usefulness to the jury (since you aren’t saying much). In a courtroom cross-examination,

How to Rehearse Your Closing Argument – Without Stumbling Over Your Slides

March 13th, 2019|

You know how to frame a great closing argument.  You know how to deliver it to a jury.  But in our experience, the real hurdle arises when you take that great argument and great delivery and try to incorporate technology.  Which you certainly should!  With juries these days, you need to channel a Steve Jobs product launch as much as a Perry Mason trial.  Yet, in doing so, you introduce potentially unpracticed skills and tools, and place your reliance on an extra variable: the tech itself.  Including slides changes the way you’ll need to prepare and rehearse your closing argument.  Think about Jobs revealing a brand-new product.  The cadence was so smooth, the

Experts, Cultivate Awe

March 11th, 2019|

By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm: Remember Carl Sagan and the original show Cosmos? It was a beloved series in the late 70’s, not just for its accessible explanations of something as complex as the history of the universe, but also for its ability to evoke a sense of wonder. As a gifted science communicator, Sagan used that sense of wonder as an entry point to create a desire to learn more about the science. The same for Neil DeGrasse Tyson who took up the Cosmos mantle nearly forty years later in 2014. The common factor is a focus on a sense

In Opening, Dispense With “The Evidence Will Show”

March 7th, 2019|

By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm: Unlike many other moments in trial, the opening statement is often defined in terms of what it isn’t. It isn’t evidence, and it isn’t argument. So, what is it? It is a preview of what the evidence will be. That creates a conventional practice, reinforced in nearly all trial advocacy courses and moot court competitions: When delivering an opening statement, precede your claims with the phrase, “The evidence will show….” Some believe that this functionally is required, and there are at least a few judges who will act as though it is. But not all judges

Tell no one what we do

March 5th, 2019|

An oddity of my job as a jury/trial consultant is not being able to share the details of my work with family, friends, or anyone, ever. All of the cases in which Magnus consults are high stakes matters, regardless of whether they are civil or criminal trials. Everyone who is employed by Magnus, including David and me, are required by our clients to maintain strict confidentiality regarding their cases. Some of our clients, in fact, require everyone at Magnus who works on their case to sign confidentiality and non disclosure agreements as a prerequisite to our retention. Our work is

Savor It

March 4th, 2019|

By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm: Trials and litigation are unpleasant, right? For one party, it stems from a loss or injury that forces them into court as a last resort, and for the other party, it’s a quite-unwelcome need to defend oneself against an accusation. So what’s to enjoy? As a communication experience, it is often thought of as something to “weather,” to “bear,” or to “get through,” and not something to enjoy. In some cases, some points during those cases, and for some parties, that is going to be true. But in other cases and moments, might it be possible

Rehabilitate Your Lying Witness

February 28th, 2019|

By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm: It was another big moment yesterday as Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former personal lawyer, testified publicly before the House Oversight Committee. Widely seen as an opening act prior to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the election, Cohen’s testimony focused on continuing business in Russia during the campaign, on the pre-election “hush money” payments to former mistresses of Mr. Trump, as well as various other allegations of legal and ethical failings. Several Members of Congress, including the Committee Chair, Elijah Cummings, noted the central problem: Given Mr. Cohen’s past dishonesty, and indeed his conviction for

4 Major Defense Weaknesses in Health & Safety Products Liability – Part 3

February 28th, 2019|

No sugar-coating it:  the defense weaknesses we discussed in Part 2 are dangerous.  If you don’t have solid, convincing responses to them, you’re looking at significant challenges for your case outcome.  Finding the best solutions will, as always, depend on the specifics of your case.  However, because plaintiffs’ main arguments (and jurors’ reactions to them) are common and have broad applications, there are a number of important steps you can take every time:  Ask Yourself the Important Questions – and Answer Honestly 1. What are your case facts?  How thorough was your testing?  Was there evidence of a problem?  Did you warn sufficiently?   If there was an issue, how quickly did you respond?  What did

10 Ways to Maximize Persuasive Courtroom Storytelling (Part 4)

February 25th, 2019|

This article is the last in a series of four articles about courtroom storytelling. My goal in this series is to reveal some of the tricks of the persuasive storytelling trade in one place for the busy trial lawyer. I hope that these recommendations can serve as a pretrial checklist for anyone who wants to draft an opening statement. A2L’s litigation consultants have published dozens of articles about storytelling, and we’ve released books and webinars on the subject. These ten tips represent the essence of what we have learned and of what we have taught. If you apply these ten suggestions when