at least everyone else in my Advanced Criminal Trial Advocacy class. Those losers can’t hold a candle to me. I know I’m kind of biased, but there are only like two other students in that class who I’d even consider placing on my team one day. Otherwise, those kids are hacks.
I had my final trial in ATA today and killed. Not surprising, because I always kill at those things. Granted, they’re “mock trials” but I have a pretty good record with my real cases too.
The problem I notice with most folks is that they’re trying cases like they’re trying to get a part on Law & Order or The Practice. They show no restraint and always ask one question too many. No matter how many times they’re taught, they just don’t get that it’s better to lead a witness to the desired conclusion, but do not draw the conclusion for the jury. You’re supposed to ask questions so that the jury can’t help but draw the conclusion that you want them to and in closing, you make your argument for that conclusion. That’s when you bring it all together for the “Aha!” moment.
I’m a closer. If working on a team, I always opt for the closing. I’m just sure I can do a better job of it than anyone else I’m working with. No matter what happens duriing a trial, you always have the closing argument to tell the story the way YOU want it to be told. It’s super important not to fuck it up. One thing I noticed tonight is that I kind of black out when I close. Meaning, I don’t pay attention to the other counsel. i don’t pay attention to the judge. I just get into a zone and start making my argument, looking the jury in their eyes, making a connection and bringing all of the evidence together. Those other lames were reading their closings and stumbling over their words. Amateurs.
I’d have to say that after preparation, the most important part of trial advocacy is presence. You’ve got to have it. You’ve got to have a good and commanding voice, a demeanor that will relate to the jury, confidence and a command of the room. You’ve simply got to look and sound like you know what you’re talking about. The jury doesn’t know the law, and if you look like you know it, they might see it that way too.
While you might not think so, I think it matters a LOT how attractive you are. If you look nice and well-groomed, if you have a good suit on and you look comfortable in it, if you have good posture and don’t do shit like pace or nervously move your hands about, well then I think you have a good chance of making your opponents look like newbies. I’m telling you, whenever I have a trial or arbitration, I have to at least feel like I look good. That’s half the battle. Sounding good is the other half and you can almost always bullshit your way through most of it and then kill ’em in the close.
I don’t really think I’ll go into criminal trial work, at least not anytime soon. Still, if I did, you’d be in good hands with me. I’m just sorry for you all that the majority of the folks in my class will for sure be working in the DA’s and PD’s offices next year.