LitigationWorld: Micro-Symposium on Valuable Lessons From Memorable Trials
All trials have moments of drama from which litigators learn valuable lessons. This issue of LitigationWorld features a micro-symposium with six such lessons. These memorable trial events and resulting tips from Ted Brooks, Karen Koehler, Benjamin G. Shatz, Neil J. Squillante, Thomas H. Vidal, and Edward Zohn encompass courtroom decorum, direct testimony, cross examination, demonstrative evidence, impeachment, and trial strategy. (This was first published on Technolawyer's LitigationWorld newsletter. I have shared my contribution below, and would be happy to forward a copy of the entire newsletter email upon request. Email requests to firstname.lastname@example.org).
Ted Brooks, Impeachment Requires Diving Into the Details
There's nothing as game-changing in trial as a rock-solid impeachment of a key witness. In the Robert Blake murder trial, the media had already tried, convicted, and sentenced Mr. Blake. Everyone was convinced he would spend the rest of his life in jail. Well, everyone except for his attorney — M. Gerald Schwartzbach (and me, of course).
During trial prep, we had carefully inspected and reviewed all the photographic evidence, and we discovered many interesting things which would later be used in trial. It seems that nobody else spent the time and effort we had to see what was really in there.
So we have a lead detective on the witness stand, questioning him about the possibility of mishandling the evidence. Gerry (Schwartzbach) asks him if he was there at the dumpster, which was later emptied to find the murder weapon.
Our detective denied being there at or even near the dumpster, as we displayed the photo to the jury. Once Gerry got him committed and locked in to his story, using TrialDirector, we zoomed in on a tiny little area of the photo, showing him actually on the dumpster. The detective then stated, "Oh yeah, I guess I was there."
[Publisher's Note: For a detailed account of the Robert Blake trial, see Ted Brooks, Inside Robert Blake's High-Tech Defense, LitigationWorld (Apr 26. 2005)]
Ted Brooks is an award-winning Trial Presentation Consultant and blogger at Court Technology and Trial Presentation.
Jurors and Technology in Trial: What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits
|Acquittal -- PRICELESS|
Click here for a related article with additional photos showing this impeachment during the Robert Blake murder trial.