Domestic Diversions

The first to make the facts come alive: Gaining the advantage in bench trials

The ABA’s McElhaney on Litigation reminds us of how to persuade a judge.

Jim McElhaney writes (excerpt):
“You are talking directly to a fellow human being about the ‘gut stuff’ of life. What’s right and what’s wrong. Fair and unfair. Just and unjust. This is all about the power of a story to grab the heart of a fellow human—not something that is going to be measured for its adequacy by a professor who is checking to see if you found all the possible legal theories in the case. You already did that weeks ago with your pleadings.

“Remember, the power of persuasion lies in creating a sense of injustice. Judges—like juries—want to right wrongs. If you represent the plaintiff, show—don’t tell—your jury how the defendant hurt the plaintiff. And if you represent the defendant, your point is, it’s wrong for him to pay for what he didn’t do.

“Facts—not arguments, legal conclusions or academic pedantry—are what have the power to persuade.”


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