The Persuader's Real Rules of 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.

This 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.

Rule No. 1: You can show the exhibit to the jury anytime after it has been received into evidence.

It's against the rules of evidence to show a jury something that has not been placed into evidence. But --- the reverse rule is the Persuader's Rule — you can show the exhibit to the jury anytime after it has been received into evidence. The Persuader's Rule means you can show the jury your exhibit during your opening statement, if you handle it right.

Get ahead in the race to a favorable decision. Put your major exhibits in front of the jury as soon as possible, together with your explanation of what it shows, and why they should pay attention to it. Whether you are on the plaintiff's side or the defense side, the Persuader's Real Rule of Evidence is to start showing the jury a couple of your major exhibits during your opening statement. During your opening statement you can talk about your exhibit in an uninterrupted, persuasive, flow. Here, before any testimony, you can show the jury how and why "the physical evidence" demonstrates you are right.

If you want to show the jury an exhibit during your opening statement — all that needs to be done is to have the judge receive your exhibit into evidence before your opening statement.

Rule No. 2: You can use a motion in limine (offer of evidence in limine) to get your exhibit admitted.

"Motion in Limine" simply means a request for the court to do something before the trial starts. Although legions of lawyers and judges have ...Read Full Article »


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 Full Article »


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