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JURY SELECTION 101: THE OPENING

I recently reported for jury duty, despite knowing with my time as a prosecutor, later as a defense attorney and teaching lawyers online nationally about jury selection, the chances of me being selected were slim to none. On this occasion, I didn’t even get asked any questions, but I did have two days to watch the process. I saw a few things that could have been improved. Actually, many things. In this article, I’m going to only focus on the beginning of questioning, and provide a few quick tips for…

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Lawyers: How to Win Cases with Storytelling

  Remember being a child and having your favorite book read to you by a parent? Or hearing someone tell a funny family story that is often repeated? How about telling your friends about something great that happened over the weekend? Storytelling is the oldest form of narrative communication by humans. It's wired into our DNA. Every human culture uses stories in an attempt to explain and make sense of the universe. The fastest way to connect to a jury when presenting your case is to use stories. When you talk…

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How to Detect a Liar

Let's face it, everyone lies. Lies can run the spectrum from trying not to hurt someone's feelings to toxic manipulation in work, life or love. Can you tell when someone is lying? Fortunately, with a little practice, liars can become easy to spot. These simple tips will help you not be deceived. Listen To What Is Being Said "Timmy, did you eat one of the cookies without asking?" a mom questions her six year old. "No, Mommy. I did not eat one of the cookies without asking." If you know…

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Adding Drama to Public Speaking

Every time we talk, we use different tones of voice, gestures and body language. When it comes to public speaking, it's no different. After determining what message you want to convey and crafting a speech, be it inspirational, educational or humorous, the hard work has just begun, because it's time to determine how to present your material. To give perspective, imagine that tonight you're attending a charity event where the keynote speaker is going to advocate for those who suffer from Alzheimer's. The speaker comes on stage, stops in the…

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Blogging for Suicide Prevention:Ode to a Friend

Four days ago I answered my phone and was greeted by the sound of weeping. The call was to notify me a friend and attorney colleague had died by suicide, and I was being contacted because she'd left a note for me to take over her cases. I've never lost anyone to suicide. Death isn't a stranger, taking both my parents in 2010 within four months of each other, and many others over the years. Yet, the news of my friend's final act shoved me into shock. There were two…

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DOMESTIC VIOLENCE and THE BLAME GAME

Right now, the media is in an uproar over the case of Ray Rice, the NFL Football player who knocked his wife, Janay, out with a punch to the head in an elevator. He's been suspended.http://deadspin.com/heres-video-of-ray-rice-knocking-out-his-fiancee-in-an-1631864196The front page of CNN.com has Janay making a statement that "To take something away from the man I love that he has worked his ass off for all his life just to gain ratings is a horrific. (sic)" Will the media now begin the "victim blame game?" Go back and read the first paragraph of…

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Prosecutors and Sex Crimes: What Year Are We In?

The other day I was reading the Huffington Post and came across an article titled "Prosecutors Rarely Bring Charges in College Rape Cases." It detailed how an LA County prosecutor informed a victim that he wasn't going to proceed with her case because jurors "have no experience in any kind of sex crimes occurring in their life" and would have problems convicting beyond a reasonable doubt. Sound plausible to you? Well, the offender confessed. CONFESSED. Read the full article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/17/college-rape-prosecutors-press-charges_n_5500432.html?utm_hp_ref=email_share When I read this, I wondered: What year is this?…

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DEATH BY POWERPOINT

As a speaker, Toastmaster and public speaking/trial skills coach, I get to see lots of presentations. What's the one thing that makes me want to put my head in my hands? POWERPOINT This product should come with a warning label: IF MISUSED WILL PUT AUDIENCES TO SLEEP OR MAKE THEM WANT TO DO VIOLENCE. Think back to when you were (or maybe still are) trapped in a classroom at the mercy of a teacher who drones on while pointing to the board and reading things verbatim that he/she has written…

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Adventures In Restraining Order Land

Recently I decided to go to court to watch civil harassment restraining order hearings before a judge I hadn't appeared before. I have a case in front of him soon and wanted to see if his judicial temperament was  reasoned jurist or screaming maniacal behemoth.A civil harassment order is something you obtain when someone harasses, threatens, stalks, assaults or engages in similar unacceptable behavior. It enables you to call the police and have them arrested if they come near you again. The court issues a temporary order then, after the…

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The Tale of a Bad Case

This week I had a friend ask me to write about my worst legal experience. I immediately said NO. There have been a lot of gut-wrenching, nightmare making, soul searching cases that I choose not to relive. The more I thought about this, I did recall one I don't mind sharing. I had been a prosecutor for about three years and was assigned to do misdemeanor trials. Today, prosecutors are assigned their cases ahead of time and have a chance to review them. Then, in the days of "Wild West"…

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