As the junior lawyer, my job for this case was mostly copious note-taking, behind-the scenes strategizing, last-minute research and witness-wrangling — but that doesn’t mean this case wasn’t the most stressful professional experience I’ve ever had. I mean, it was. Oh God, it was.
Tonight — bubble bath, Olympics Opening Ceremony, eleven hours of sleep. At least.
Some stray observations from trial:
For most of the trial, the jurors seem totally inscrutable, but toward the end of a three-week trial you can start to see where the jurors are leaning. It’s in their body language, facial tics, little things.
Except for the jurors who were just outright staring daggers at me. I figured they were not on my client’s side if they were looking at me — the junior lawyer! — like they wanted to shoot me in the head.
All the books tell you to write your closing before you start preparing for trial. What strange advice. A trial takes on these totally unforeseen twists and turns — one cornerstone of our closing was that a percipient witness’ eyesight was so bad she couldn’t get to the witness stand unassisted. We used that in our closing remarks. How could we have predicted that?
You can’t unring a bell. Wow. You really can’t. You can do everything in your power to rehabilitate, but once the jury sees it or hears it, there’s no going back.
Another trial adage — at least for criminal trials — is that the defendant should never testify. Our defendant was dying to testify and we kept advising him against it. When it finally became clear that his testimony was the only way to get certain defenses in — and the importance of those defenses was greater than the potential liability of exposure on cross — we let him take the stand, and he did beautifully. He was calm, measured, honest, humble and relatable - a great witness.
Lots of surprises. You can know a case better than you know your own life story, and there will still be make-or-break surprises.
Okay. Maybe we’ll get a verdict tomorrow and I’ll have ore stray observations.