Tuesday, July 20, 2010

It's all in the context

Now that the 2010 World Cup is over we no longer have to listen to those annoying little trumpets from hell known as vuvuzelas. Watching a World Cup was akin to listening to a swarm of mosquitoes buzzing around your  head for two hours. If you find yourself suffering from vuvuzela withdrawal or if you forgot just how damn annoying those plastic noisemakers were, click here.

Not only was it painful to listen to the toy trumpets while watching a game, they also have no context within the game. Are people blowing them to cheer on their team? Are they blowing them to boo someone? Are they chiding the referee for yet another botched call? Are the fans celebrating a goal? Or a great defensive play? Your guess is as good as mine because I have no idea. They were the white noise behind the game.

Using a shotgun approach to defending a criminal case is much the same as blowing on the insipid vuvuzela. The arguments come so fast and from so many different angles that the jury is left to wonder what you're trying to do. Everything you do in that courtroom has got to be placed within the context of the story you are telling the jury.

Sketch out your story and decide what facts fit within the outline and what facts are extraneous. What arguments advance your story and what arguments detract from it? You are the narrator and it is your job to relate your client's story to the jurors. Provide the jury with the pieces of the story, define the narrative structure and let the men and women in the box put it all together.

Firing blindly at anything that moves will do nothing more than confuse the jurors and take their concentration away from those areas on which you want them to focus. They, too, will be left to wonder what that buzzing vuvuzela means.

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