The Jury Trial as Theater – Part 3
Part 3 – The Personal Injury and Medical Malpractice Jury Trial as Theater: Aristotle’s Rules of Drama Can Inform Personal Injury and Medical Malpractice Trial Techniques.
This blog post is the final installment of our exploration of how our team of Bronx accident lawyers can use the elements of drama in trying a personal injury or medical malpractice case before a jury. At Jesse Minc Personal Injury Law, we have seen how these lessons help Bronx accident victims obtain victory in court, and will put these lessons to work for you when we try your case to a Bronx jury.
Element 4: The Dialogue.
In a personal injury or medical malpractice trial, witness testimony, as well as other evidence, takes the place of dialogue between the characters in a dramatic work. The witness testimony and evidence must be presented by the injury trial lawyer so as to tell the plaintiff’s story in a clear, succinct and persuasive manner. The attorney must work to present the evidence so that the plot and theme are easy to understand and convincing in leading the jury to award maximum compensation for the plaintiff. Three of the main mechanisms by which an injury lawyer can present dialogue to the jury at trial include the careful questioning of witnesses, the introduction of the right documents and other materials into evidence, and persuasive argumentation during opening statements and summation to tie the witness testimony and other evidence together so as to drive the plot and theme of the trial.
Element 5: The Rhythm.
The “rhythm” of a story refers to the tone of voice, cadence and volume that actors use as the story progresses. These subtleties are very important in the presentation of dramatic works, and are equally important in a personal injury or medical malpractice trial. Attorneys must use expressive and varied speech patterns to guide the jury to the correct emotion in support of the plaintiff’s version of the case, must fashion their questions and tactics when presenting witnesses and other evidence so as to subtly persuade a jury that they ought to feel a certain way about each piece of evidence that is introduced. In addition to guiding the emotions of the jury in the plaintiff’s favor, the proper use of rhythm in the presentation of a personal injury trial will keep the jurors attention and keep them from falling asleep even during the most technical and opaque portions of the trial. After all, no matter how compelling a story may be, if it is told in a manner that bores the audience – or even puts them to sleep – it will not have the desired impact. A trial that bores the jury will not result in maximum compensation and vindicate for the plaintiff’s injuries, or adequate punishment for the defendants’ negligent conduct. Lawyers and witnesses must speak to the jury so as to captivate them and hold their attention so that the jury focuses on the proper elements of the case and concludes that the plaintiff’s version of the case is the correct one.
Element 6: The Spectacle.
The “spectacle” of a dramatic work refers to its visual aspects: the set of a movie or a play, the characters’ appearances, to name a few elements. At trial, just as in a play or a movie, the action within the courtroom, the presentation of physical evidence and the appearance of the witnesses must be used to drive the plot and theme and persuade the jury to find for the plaintiff. Skilled injury attorneys will use pictures, videos and diagrams to augment witness testimony and explain complicated concepts and key case events to the jury. Attorneys will also use body language while asking questions of witnesses or speaking directly to the jury to subtly convey emotions and feeling to the jury, which can increase the impact of key testimony and evidence.
The best trial attorneys will also manipulate and direct witnesses with questions designed to elicit emotions from the witnesses so as to drive the plot and theme of the case forward in the plaintiff’s favor. For example, a lawyer trying a car accident case may call the defendant driver to the stand and question them about their admission to the police officer at the scene of the accident that they were texting and driving when the accident occurred. The witness may have denied admitting this to the police officer at the scene; but the police officer may also have previously testified that the defendant did indeed make this admission. The defendant’s cell phone records may also have been obtained, and may show that the defendant was indeed texting at the moment the accident occurred. The lawyer will elicit the denial from the defendant in front of the jury, and then confront the defendant with the undeniable proof contained in the cell phone records and the police officer’s testimony to show that the defendant is lying. The jury will be persuaded, through the accident lawyer’s careful presentation and set-up of the proper evidence and questions, that the defendant is not to be believed, and that the plaintiff’s version of the story is true, and will believe the plaintiff’s message that he or she is entitled to maximum compensation from the defendant for their negligence.
Our Bronx personal injury lawyers and medical malpractice lawyers will put these lessons to use in your case when we present it to a Bronx jury. Call us today at (718) 354-8000 for a free consultation to discuss your Bronx accident lawsuit or medical malpractice case. We will help you and your family hold those responsible to account in court and will help you secure the compensation you need to put your life back together after tragedy strikes.