Domestic Diversions

Maximum impact: How to organize your trial evidence

The ABA’s McElhaney on Litigation suggests replacing chronology with groups of vivid word pictures.

Jim McElhaney writes (excerpt):

McElhaney on Litigation
“. . . Tell them the story. . . . [P]ut together a series of verbal snapshots that you create out of the evidence. . . .
“Then show them word pictures again in your case-in-chief . . . . [U]se the witnesses and your exhibits to paint the pictures. . . .”
“After you’ve decided what goes in each of your pictures,” said Angus, “decide on the order in which you’re going to show them to the jury, with three questions in mind: First, what order makes it easiest to understand the story? Second, what order makes the moral imperative come alive so that the jury decides your client is the victim of a serious injustice? Third, what order puts the focus of judgment on the other party?”

2 thoughts on “Maximum impact: How to organize your trial evidence

  1. Sonja Aoun

    I read McElhaney in law school and still occasionally refer to the book I bought then. This post is a good refresher. I find it especially helpful when dealing with a client who wants to refute every single point the opposing side is making. It helps to be able to explain how focusing on themes could be more helpful, even in a bench trial situation, which all Virginia family law cases are. Chronology certainly has its place, but the overall impression is often what makes or breaks a custody case.

  2. sheldon

    very good points, allows client better focus on points. Courts do not hasve time to read 69 pages
    before getting to the issues. their aides like it precise and easy to read and UNDERSTAND.


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