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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Lion versus swan

Growing up as the only girl with five brothers, you learn to be tough. Oftentimes it has been harder for me to be nice and soft than it has been for me to be hard-headed and bad-ass. One of the greatest things that could have ever happened to me was making the trial team and getting under the tutelage of my trial coach. He helped me to realize that rather than attacking like a hungry lion going in for the kill, some witnesses would be better approached in an "I'm-a-gentle-swan" like manner.


People like the swan; they hear that word and they think of Disney and the ballet. The swan is a beautiful animal that represents grace and love. In fact, when a swan is head to head with their mate, they even form a heart-the universal symbol of love. Taking the swan approach paints a fantasy of the kind of person you want the witness to think you are; but once the witness has gotten comfortable with your style, your grace, your charisma, just like the swan....

you attack!!

Honestly, once I learned the swan attack technique, it became just a tad bit more fun than the lion approach. However, every once in a while, you may intend to approach a witness with style and grace and they....well, they just won't let you.

This morning, I was watching a colleague of mine in a motion to suppress hearing, question a state trooper about the bang-up job he did on a DUI stop and the guy was a jerk. Not just a little bit of a jerk but a real live, "yeah-so-I-didn't-do-my-job-and-why-are-you-making-a-big-deal-out-of-it" kind of jerk. This colleague of mine approached the trooper with swan-like grace, with no intention of attacking the trooper but he BEGGED for it.

The manual says you are supposed to conduct the test on a flat surface?


You conducted the test on a slope?

Yes (with shrugged shoulders)

The manual says you are supposed to conduct the test on a sturdy surface?


You conducted the test on asphalt with gravel?


The manual says you are supposed to conduct the test on a dry surface?


You conducted the test on a wet, muddy surface?

Yes (shrugged shoulders again)

The manual says you are supposed to use an actual line?


You told Mr. Client to walk an imaginary line?


Keep in mind that through all of this, the Trooper is looking at my colleague like she is a chicken with a dog head. He is answering questions like he cannot believe he has actually been called into court and he is being an asshole. 

I can't wait to see him testify in front of a jury.

Until next time,

Be blessed, be careful, don't consent and don't confess.


Motion for mistrial granted, then judge advised the prosecutor he was going to move the case to his admin (where cases go to die) docket and he wanted them to seriously consider whether it was a good idea to try this case again because he highly doubted it would get past a motion for judgment of acquittal. I'm counting that as a win! (I ended up sitting in for my co-worker so it counts.)