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Courtroom ready for trial to start with exhibits

The Persuader’s
Real Rules of Exhibits

Most lawyers don’t know how to use exhibits effectively to persuade the jury. So we have started a series of the practical rules of using your exhibits. You might call them The Persuader’s Real Rules of Exhibits.

The first article in this series sets out the "The Persuader's Real Rules of Exhibits " 1 through 4 - the use of exhibits during your opening statement to the jury.

This is the second article in the series. It deals with the showing your exhibits in an effective way during a trial; so that the jurors' long-term memory holds your exhibit.

Rule No 5: Respect the limits of the prefrontal cortex and short-term memory.

This rule could be phrased as: “(A) Eight second show; (B) Simplify to seven characteristics; and (C) Rehearse it by sound or sight.” In concrete terms, here is what this rule is:

A. Exhibit the exhibit to the jurors’ senses, for at least eight (8) full seconds.

B. Simplify an important exhibit so there are only seven “characteristics” for the short term memory to hold in mind. For example, for the juror’s short-term memory to hold remember that the exhibit is a contract page with a clause that says the ABC company will deliver 600 widgets by June 4, 2007, the mind has to remember at least seven “characteristics.“ That is, the juror’s mind has to be able to pull out of memory that your exhibit is (characteristic #1) a piece of letter sized paper. (#2) That piece of pager is one page of a contract between the ABC Company and XYZ Cleaning Inc. (#3) That there is an important sentence on that page that says “(#4) that ABC Company (#5) will deliver 600 widgets (#6) on June 4, 2007.”

C. As quickly as possible after showing the exhibit, give the jurors a sensory break to give their minds the needed time to rehearse the critical information. E.g., Say, now Mr. Witness, so the printed record of what we are looking at is clear, I want you to read aloud the sentence I have highlighted in yellow on this exhibit. Then I’ll ask you some questions about that specific sentence.” [Witness then states it, which allows the jurors’ minds to rehearse the total exhibit.]

It is no good showing or reading an exhibit to the jury if as a matter of neurological science their brains are not going to recall it easily in the jury room. Therefore you need to know . . .Read or download entire article in PDF format.

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