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TrialRight Again, by Kirby Griffis, BriefRight


Picture yourself as the judge or the judge’s law clerk. You read briefs and other documents all day. Most are boilerplate language. When someone does have an original thought, the writer ruins it with redundancies and poor grammar and punctuation. 

Imagine the Court’s relief when someone writes a brief that makes a concise legal point supported by correctly formatted citations. This is a short article, but it makes a strong argument for clear writing. -CCE

Last week, I wrote about how some of the principles of briefwriting apply just as strongly to trial practice. There’s another important principle that applies strongly to each. I learned it years ago from an excellent trial lawyer: everything is evidence.

In court, the jurors start to evaluate who in the courtroom they can trust and believe from the moment they first walk through the door, from before voir dire to after closing argument. Their scrutiny is not limited to the content of your formal speeches and witness examinations: it extends to your demeanor as you sit at counsel table, how much you object and when, whether you fumble with exhibits, whether you arrive to court each day in a limo, and everything else that they can see. You must think about all of these things.
Similarly, in your legal briefs, the judge is not just paying attention to content. She is also influenced by how long the brief is, its formatting, its clarity, and many other factors as well. . . .