The teaching ability of expert witnesses, the attorneys and the case they present translates into enhanced perceptions of credibility. Effective teaching is clear and concise but it is also relevant and immediate. Preparing a simple and fitting defense presentation for a complex set of facts can be challenging, especially if the plaintiff relies on simplistic themes and repeated notions of reptile-based arguments. The good news is that most jurors, because they find complex stories with competing case narratives interesting, are motivated to learn.
A complex case could be a standard patent case, a product liability trial where the underlying product assessment becomes a technical analysis of component parts, a medical malpractice lawsuit involving obscure medical procedures, a securities matter where jurors need to learn the basic language of financial concepts normally reserved for MBA students, or even a basic negligence case that requires some specialized understanding of how the body typically reacts to sudden trauma.
In all of these cases, and in many others, the best teacher is usually the winner. In order to help your client prevail at trial, there is a need to strive in advance for a uniform and streamlined treatment of openings, demonstratives, witnesses and closings. Moreover, to ensure you are educating the jury in a way that facilitates an acquisition of critical knowledge about your version of the case, keep in mind the following:
Jurors take the path that is easiest to follow
If the jury only needs to know the time, don’t teach them to build the watch
Teach before you advocate
Adults are practical learners – If they can’t use it, they lose it
Have witnesses tell a complete story and delineate the conclusion to be drawn
Draw inferences and synthesize expert testimony for the jury
Arguments should support the stories jurors would naturally tell themselves about the case
Walk before you run
Educate, don’t decorate
Before choosing a jury, answers to the following questions on potential jurors in complex cases are crucial:
Is a juror process oriented? An analytical or emotional decision maker? Deferential or questioning of authority?
How do they feel about learning new information?
Do they believe that learning is empowering?
Do they display self-confidence?
How do they think? [This is often more important than what they think.]
Can they deal with minute detail and nuance, and not just big pictures?