The Importance of Storytelling in the Courtroom
One of the most important aspects of being a criminal defense attorney is telling our client’s story. We tell it to investigators, prosecutors, and judges, but no rendition of the story is more important than the one we recite to the jury.
Who Do You Trust to Tell Your Story?
Would you trust a stranger to tell a highly personal story about your life while your freedom and future hang in the balance? Of course not. We do not take our responsibility as defense attorneys lightly; we understand what is at stake and work to earn the trust of our clients. We do this by investing our time on the front end, getting to know our client as individuals so we can experience what it is like to stand in their shoes. This is not only about trust building; it’s about gathering the information and narrative we need to weave a compelling story for the jury.
Editing Stories is a Crucial Component of Trial Practice
It’s crucial to be an effective editor in addition to an enthralling storyteller. As defense attorneys, we spend many hours with our clients and many more sifting through evidence and legal documents to put together a defense. All the information is important, but some of the material that winds up on the editing room floor is best suited as background information for our team rather than becoming part of the presentation to the jury.
A story – no matter how thorough and accurate – is worthless if it is not able to keep the juror’s attention and tell a defendant’s story in the precious window of time that is available to make an impact. The ability to distill information, evidence, and narrative into one compelling story is a critical skill for any attorney who wishes to succeed in criminal trials.
A Client’s Story is More Than the Facts of the Case
The facts are important, but a client’s story goes deeper than the sum of the facts of the case. A client’s story must be told in a way that makes a real human connection with each of the jurors. This is best accomplished by tapping into the universal emotions all human beings experience – fear, surprise, disgust, shame, anger, disappointment, isolation, joy, and sadness. Jurors can relate to how a defendant felt in the moments that are relevant to the underlying facts of the case, and it is important for a defense attorney to make that connection.
We will connect with the jury through the emotions we evoke in the stories we share — from opening statements to closing; the jury will connect with your client similarly. Bring our client off the piece of paper that labels them merely “the defendant” and reveal you to the jury as “a person.”