Evidence and Advocacy

Many trial advocacy books focus on things like juror psychology, theming, framing, sequencing, point of view, and other aspects of presenting your case to the jury.  The focus paid to all these things often demotes the most important part of the trial, which of course is the presentation of the evidence.   That is not to say that the way that evidence is presented is not important, but it remains true that juries do decide cases based on the evidence presented.   Sometimes when I tell my students and other lawyer that I believe the evidence presented is the most important part of a trial, they resist and tell me that the recent discoveries in jury psychology make the evidence presented less important.

But I continue to believe that cases are decided on the evidence presented, so I was glad to read recently this line from Moe Levine:  “if you win your case at all, it’s going to be by the evidence you present and by not making yourself obnoxious.”  I especially like the latter point. This statement sort of captures what a trial lawyer should be doing in as few words as possible.  I am not deifying Moe Levine.  I would not try to duplicate his methods for myself, but I do think someone of his experience deserves close attention.  And his thoughts are in accord with the psychological studies that have identified the evidence as the most important predictor of jury verdicts.

So, before you pick up a psychology book to prepare for your next trial, consider first paying extremely close attention to the evidence and making sure you have it ready to present at trial.