By Hon. (Ret.) Ken E. Adair
Don’t Make Excuses for Your Client
Video Transcribed: I’ve talked before about the ugly truths of a case. Discovering the ugly truths of a case and embracing those ugly truths and fleshing them out to find out what do they really mean for the case and convincing yourself, and you will, over time, convince yourself that there’s no real value in running and hiding from these truths because the jury is going to see you ducking in and moving side to side. And they’re going to see the shame in your eyes, and they’re going to see your eyes dart away, and those sorts of things, but you embrace those truths.
How do you present those to a jury? When you have ugly truths? My client is dependent on pain medicine, or there’s a suggestion for my client’s dependent on pain medicine. My client’s been in trouble before. My client and his spouse or girlfriend have had physical altercations in the past and he’s done these things before if that gets to come in.
Embrace it with humility and grace and dignity. Don’t embrace it with shame. Don’t make excuses for your client. This stuff doesn’t happen in a vacuum. If a person is prone to violence in a relationship, chances are they learned that through the modeling from their own parents or the adults in their lives.
And so, that’s a real truth, but that doesn’t mean that the person is guilty this time. And so, if you get really hostile and defensive about it and say, “It’s no big deal,” because I got news for you. It’s a big deal. If your client has a history of violence toward other people, that’s a big deal.
So, don’t be undignified about it. Embrace it. Embrace it with grace and humility and dignity and make sure that you can extract from the jury a promise that it’s not something they’re going to hold against them.
The best way to do that is to find out the ones that think it’s a really big deal and that it might impede their ability to be truthful in this case. But all the ugly truths, whether it’s prior history, whether it’s a delay in treatment, whether it is not following doctor’s advice. Usually, there’s a reason like poverty.
There’s a reason because they’re very conservative about their medical care and they don’t go whining to the doctor. They’re not a frequent flyer. That’s a good thing. But embrace these things with dignity and humility and don’t automatically discount things like delay in treatment, not following doctor’s orders, those kinds of things.
Just don’t give up because of these negatives, because if you flesh these out, you’ll find out that they’re not negatives at all. They are just part of the story, the real story, the good, and the bad, and the ugly. Thank you, and again, I hope this video has been helpful. This is Trial Attorney Ken Adair. If You are looking for First and Second Chair Co-Counsel, Focus Groups & Mock Jury Sociometrics, Jury Trial Preparation Services, visit trial-win.com