1. Advanced seminar in closing argument. Closing arguments in the Conrad Black trial took all week. MacLean's Mark Steyn sent out partisan-but-wonderful highlights, like the way defense lawyer Ron Safer instantly wove an objection into his argument:
Safer scoffed at [a prosecution argument], pointing out that his client didn't know what proportion Conrad Black owned of Inc vs what proportion he owned of International. He didn't know what proportion of Inc was owned by Radler or Ravelston.
[Prosecutor] Eric Sussman leapt to his feet. "Objection! There's no evidence about what Mark Kipnis did or didn't know."
"Exactly!" said Safer. "That's the very point I'm making." The room fell around laughing, and defence counsel jabbed his finger at the chief prosecutor: "They have the burden of proof. A tie doesn't go to the government."
Michael Schachter ended his closing statement by asking [his client] Peter Atkinson to stand up. Peter did, a bald sheepish man looking a little flushed and embarrassed by his moment in the limelight.
But it was worth doing. Amid all the computer screens and transcript binders and dozens of lawyers, it's easy for the three of the four defendants who aren't larger than life British peers to get lost amid the clutter.
2. Juries and damages. At Point of Law, David Rossmiller notes a paper by Prof. Cass Sunstein suggesting that juries and judges overestimate the harm felt by plaintiffs who have lost some aspect of a normal life (like the ability to walk, say), and underestimate the harm caused by "consistent low-level pain."
3. When lawyers and FBI agents show up in voir dire. Scott Greenfield at Simple Justice, prompted by a post here, tells about the recent time he had an FBI special agent and a prominent criminal defense lawyer on his jury panel, and how the trial judge handled the potential bias of each.
4. Rethinking assumptions. Lawyer Ron Miller, writing at the Trial Lawyer Resource Center, makes a case for seeking out ideas that challenge your jury habits. He writes that he has long subscribed to the idea "exposing the flaws in your own case scores credibility points with the jury and that you can frame your weaknessess better by getting out your own version of the story first." (I've written here about a study that seems to support that approach.) Now Miller is reading a book that argues the opposite tactic, argue only your strengths, is the way to go.
5. Taking risks in voir dire. Mark Bennett at Defending People answers an anonymous prosecutor who asks, "Do you think it's wise to ask the jury can they think of any reason why the defense lawyer may not want his client to testify? What if they say 'Because he has a record'?"
Everything I've missed, and there's a lot, is at this week's Jur-E Bulletin as always.
Photo by Ho John Lee at http://www.flickr.com/photos/hjl/101443399/; license details there.)