Category: jury trial

  • Battle of the Neuropeptides

    Let’s say you’re a criminal-defense lawyer, and you’re about to pick a jury. You want the jury to trust you and to be generous with your client, but you’re not sure you can trust them to. What can you do to improve your chances? Here’s the new-agey TLC kumbaya answer: trust them first.

  • Texas’s Accomplice Witness Rule

    Here’s the application paragraph of the accomplice-witness-as-a-question-of-fact jury instruction from the Harris County jury charge bank. Therefore, if you believe from the evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that an offense was committed and you further believe from the evidence that the witness, _____ , was an accomplice, or you have a reasonable doubt whether he […]

  • Trial Bonding

    Defending people should be personal. A human being has put his future in your hands, and someone is trying to take that future away. “Don’t take it personally” is lousy advice; it may not be necessary to care about the human being you’re defending, but it helps—when a lawyer cares about his client, the jury […]

  • The Debriefing

    After twelve days of trial and deliberation, the jury found my client guilty of tampering with physical evidence. Now, ordinarily I figure that going and talking to a jury after a trial is a good way to get lied to, but here we had what I felt was a full and fair exchange of views. […]

  • Fighting Back Against Common Sense

    "Common sense" has nothing to do with it. The words do not appear in a Texas criminal jury charge. The existence of jury trials is not common sense. The presumption of innocence is not common sense. Requiring proof beyond a reasonable doubt is not common sense. If any of these concepts were common sense, everyone […]

  • Input Needed: Reptile in Criminal Cases

    David Ball, co-author of Reptile, is asking criminal lawyers to help him develop a list of “reasons we lose criminal defense cases.” He wants to hear from lawyers in the trenches who deal with these problems all the time.  The list will help him and his team develop the use of Reptilian advocacy for criminal […]

  • Losing Sucks

    I’ve said before that I would choose a lawyer who sometimes loses over one who always wins. But today I was reminded how much losing a criminal trial sucks. The case: a “DWI-first no test no accident” in the argot. That is, a driving while intoxicated case, which was my client’s first, and in which […]

  • The Ethics of Pathos, Part II

    In The Ethics of Pathos, Part I I discussed Walter Olson’s ethical question, “Should lawyers trying cases make an appeal to jurors’ reptile brains?” While writing that post I came to the conclusion that it’s not unethical to use even the darkest of persuasive arts (I’m a student of hypnosis and other trial technologies) to […]

  • Lizards Don’t Laugh.

    Personal injury lawyer Paul Luvera has written about Applying Reptile Concepts in Trial—describing how plaintiffs’ lawyers should appeal to jurors’ reptile brains. The reptile brain is the core of the human brain, sitting right at the top of the spine surrounded by the later-developing dog brain and ape brain. The reptile brain is a survival […]

  • Recharging

    I spent the weekend in trial mode, preparing for a DWI trial in Montgomery County, north of Houston. This would’ve been only my second trial in a slow year for jury trials (the first ended in an acquittal; several others have been dismissed on the eve of trial) and my client’s career was at stake, […]