Written by: Jesse Minc Portrait Jesse Minc
Gavel Laying on a Desk

Positive Reinforcement: Persuasive Use of the Language of Jury Instructions from Jury Selection Through Summation – Part 2.

Jesse Minc on Trial in Brooklyn, New York

This article is the second in our series regarding how expert Bronx accident lawyers can use the language of jury instructions – the law that is read by the judge to the jury at the end of a case and before jury deliberations begin – as a persuasive tool throughout a Bronx personal injury or medical malpractice trial.

How to Use Jury Instructions to Buttress the Plaintiff’s Case Throughout the Trial.

As you can see, the jury instructions lay out a clear roadmap for the jury to follow to arrive at a verdict. The skilled personal injury lawyer can use the language that he or she knows will be read to the jury at the close of the case throughout the trial to subtly suggest, through every step of the case, what the answers to the questions contained in the jury instructions should be. In psychology, this is know as the “power of suggestion”. By consistently, throughout a trial, showing that the language of the jury instructions should be applied to a personal injury case in a certain way, the lawyer guides the jury’s thoughts and feelings towards answering the questions posed in the jury instructions in favor of his or her client.

By using this subtle, but very effective, tactic, the lawyer slowly constructs the opinions of the members of the jury as to the answer to each question posed in the jury instructions before the jury has ever heard the instructions.   If this tactic is used effectively, by the time the jury hears the jury instructions, the jury will already know that the answers to the questions in the jury instructions are in the plaintiff’s favor, and will have a much easier time finding that the plaintiff is deserving of maximum compensation. The effective use of this tactic throughout a personal injury trial can produce an “ah-ha” moment in the minds of the jurors (they will quickly realize, when read the jury instructions, that the plaintiff’s case has been proven under the law because they will remember the plaintiff’s attorney using the words of the jury instruction to ask questions, and will remember that the witnesses’ testimony in response to those questions clearly fit within the law as stated in the jury instructions) and will also solidify the credibility of the plaintiff’s attorney and the plaintiff’s case in the minds of the jury.

By way of example, in the a slip-and-fall accident case involving the movie theater bathroom discussed above, the plaintiff’s lawyer may ask the manager of the movie theater the following questions, and may receive the following answers: “Q: Am I correct that, generally, if the floor of a bathroom in your theater is wet, that this is an unsafe condition? A: I don’t understand what you mean. Q: Well, water on a floor can be slippery, correct? A: Yes, that’s true. Q: And slippery floors in a movie theater are not safe, correct? A: No, they’re not. Q: They’re not safe because patrons can step on them, slip and fall, am I correct? A: Yes. Q: It is the risk of injury from slipping and falling that makes them unsafe, am I correct. A: Yes, that’s true. Q:   And you would never want to allow an unsafe condition to exist on the floor in your theater, am I correct? A: Of course not. Q: It would be totally unreasonable for you, as a manager of a movie theater, to leave a floor in your movie theater in a slippery condition, correct? A: Yes, I would never do that. Q: And it’s your responsibility to make sure that your theater is in a reasonably safe condition for patrons to use it, am I correct? A: Yes. Q: So, as I asked earlier, wet floors in the bathroom of your movie theater would be an unreasonably unsafe condition, correct? A: Yes, I suppose so.”

In this example, as you can see, the lawyer has obtained an admission from the defendant that wet floors in movie theater bathrooms are unsafe conditions because they present slipping hazards, and that allowing wet conditions to exist in a movie theater bathroom would be unsafe and unreasonable. As shown above, the language of the jury instruction applicable to this case provides that the plaintiff has to prove that the floors in the bathroom were not in a reasonably safe condition. By carefully crafting questions that use the language of the jury instruction to obtain admissions from the defendant that fit neatly within the language of the jury instructions, the lawyer can prime the jury to find for the plaintiff.

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 for a no-obligation, free consultation with our team of Bronx accident attorneys. We offer you our no-fee guarantee: You do not have to pay us a cent of fees or expenses of any kind unless we win your case.

Category: Medical Malpractice