The Jury Trial as Theater – Part 1
Part 1 – The Personal Injury and Medical Malpractice Jury Trial as Theater: Aristotle’s Rules of Drama Can Inform Personal Injury and Medical Malpractice Trial Techniques.
The comparison between a jury hearing a Bronx personal injury or medical malpractice case and an audience watching the latest hit play or movie is inescapable, and fundamentally boils down to this: Success requires that a compelling and persuasive story be told. The primary goal of the storytellers – in the case of a personal injury or medical malpractice jury trial, the plaintiff’s attorney is the lead storyteller (comparable to the director of a play or movie), and the jury is the audience – is to captivate the audience, hold their attention and ultimately persuade the audience to make certain conclusions about the story being told. Personal injury and medical malpractice trials – the vehicle through which the injured and their lawyers tell their stories –are easily and effectively analyzed through the lens of drama, as they involve very personal stories of tragedy which beg for redemption and vindication and which, though often heart-wrenching and deadly serious, also involve compelling and interesting stories about real people whose lives have been destroyed by the negligence of others.
Presentation is key: the personalities and motivations of the characters, the story’s setting, the continuity of the plot, and many other factors will influence – for better or for worse – the audience’s opinions and decisions regarding the story. Juries and judges in Bronx trial courts, just like audiences in a theater, will respond much better to an interesting story, no matter how meritorious the case may be at its core. It is no surprise, then, that many of the techniques that have, for millennia, been employed to create the most successful of all movies and plays can provide valuable perspective on how top Bronx personal injury and medical malpractice lawyers can be present their cases at trial so as to maximize the impact of the client’s story on the jury, and persuade the jury to award maximum damages to a deserving plaintiff.
In ancient Greece, the famous philosopher Aristotle determined that there are six key elements to putting on a successful piece of dramatic theater, which are explained. These tools, which Aristotle intended for use on a stage by actors and playwrights, can be put to effective use by lawyers trying personal injury and medical malpractice cases to juries in New York City and the Bronx to control the courtroom narrative, hold a jury’s attention, make the jury feel invested in the story of the case, and ultimately persuade the jury that the plaintiff’s story is compelling and merits maximum compensation.
Element 1: The Plot.
The plot – or story line of what actually happened – is one of the most important elements of any story, and the personal injury and medical malpractice jury trial is no exception. Though even the most highly skilled Bronx injury lawyer cannot change the basic facts of a case, he or she can select the particular facts of a case to highlight so as to spin a compelling narrative that will captivate the attention and sympathies of the jury and convince them that the events of the case occurred in a way that substantiates the plaintiff’s claims. Depending on the facts that a personal injury and medical malpractice trial lawyer selects for emphasis at trial, the plot of a case can be persuasive and supportive of the plaintiff’s claims, resulting in victory; or can be disastrously unconvincing and result in failure. There is no question that every story can be told in many ways; convincing the jury that the plaintiff’s version of events, rather than the defendants’, is the truth by establishing a strong plot in the jurors’ minds is an important step towards victory at trial.
When preparing to present a personal injury or medical malpractice case to a jury, the attorney must present the events of the case to highlight the strengths of their case, to portray their client in a sympathetic and favorable light, and to hold the jury’s attention. If a Bronx personal injury lawyer can provide the jury with a compelling series of events right from the start, and prove that this sequence of events is true throughout the trial, the jury will be more likely not only to side with the plaintiff, but to award the plaintiff maximum compensation. Although, as the trial progresses, changes to the original concept of the plot inevitably will happen, beginning the trial with a clear and convincing storyline will help the injury lawyer lead the jury to focus on the most compelling events of the case that support the plaintiff’s story. The accident lawyer must guide the jury through the details of the case – the testimony of the witnesses, expert opinions, medical records, documents, photographs/videos, etc. – and show them, step by step, that the evidence shows that the plaintiff’s version of the events of the case is true, and that the defendants must be held accountable and pay maximum compensation for the harms they have done.
In our next installment of this blog post, we will explore more of how the elements of drama can be used by top Bronx personal injury lawyers to persuade a jury to award compensation. Our Bronx personal injury lawyers and medical malpractice lawyers have the skill and experience required to put these lessons to use in your case. Call us today at (718) 354-8000 to discuss your case. We are standing by to help you and your family secure the compensation you deserve in your time of need.