Courtroom Video and the Three Steps to Powerful Pre-Trial Intel on Your Opposing Counsel

Posted by Courtroom View Network on Feb 4, 2016 8:24:10 PM


Before the advent of trial video, attorneys looking for pre-trial intelligence on how opposing attorneys worked the courtroom had two options: watch the opposition in person at another trial or glean information from colleagues that faced them. 

Neither alternative provided a very good solution.


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Watching a trial in person requires you to commit valuable time and resources that can be spent on other important aspects of trial preparation. Asking colleagues likely provides only subjective, thumbnail sketches of an attorney, --“She's a shark,” “He’s lazy in closings,-- that don’t yield much in the way of verdict-turning insight.

But the same gavel-to-gavel courtroom video coverage that journalists use to cover the most important moments of a trial is now analyzed by law firms across the country to scout opposing counsel ahead of major trials. 

On-demand video coverage allows you to analyze every nuance of your opposing counsel’s trial performance before the gavel ever opens your case, giving you crucial information to hone your trial strategy and provide your client the best possible representation in the courtroom. 

Benefits of Pre-Trial Video Intelligence on Opposing Counsel

The value of scouting your opposition’s work before trial can’t be underestimated. It allows you to:

Find Weaknesses in How They Build Their Case: Analyzing video of your opponent in a trial similar to yours provides a full-circle view of their how they build their case, including the order in which they call lay and expert witnesses, how they present evidence on key issues such as damages, how they allocate courtroom roles among multiple attorneys on a legal team, and how they deal with evidentiary weak spots. Understanding your opponent's general approach to a trial gives you an advantage in develpoing your own trial strategy. 

Counterpunch Your Opposition’s Rhetoric: Courtroom is theater, and every attorney has a rhetorical style they use in pressing their case. Video study shows you how your opposing counsel works a courtroom, from opening statements to closing arguments. Does your opposition tend to wander into emotional argument during an opening? Do they structure their arguments around audio-visual presentations? Conversely, are they quick to raise objections when their opposition is speaking? A clear picture into how your opposing counsel argues a case to the jury is a key to tailor everything from jury selection to your own opening and closing.

Better Prepare Your Witnesses: Video provides a perfect window to study your opposition's approach to cross-examination. Are they aggressive? How do they react when confronted by a more assertive expert? Learning your opposing counsel's cross-examination techniques lets you better prepare your witnesses, yielding more effective, convincing testimony.

Strengthen Your Arguments to the Bench: Pre-trial intelligence on how your opposition argues motions before a judge allows you to better prepare your own arguments to the bench, particularly when combined with video study on the judge conducting your trial. 

Three Steps to Efficient, Effective Opposition Scouting with Video

You don’t need a whole trial’s worth of time to effectively scout your opposition. With on-demand video, you can glean invaluable information about your opposing counsel with a morning‘s worth of video review and these three steps:

1.Start by Watching Closings. Closings are the best minute-for-minute use of video analysis because they provide key information of the case and show your opposition’s rhetorical strengths and weaknesses in front of a jury. Watch your opposition’s closing argument first, then watch their opposition, who will often be quick to highlight where your common opponent has come up short at trial. Also note the one or two key witnesses that each side emphasizes for later review. 

2. Compare your opponent's opening statement to their closing: Analyze your opposing counsel’s opening to see how it measures against their close. Did they highlight a point in openings that they failed to show in closing? Does their delivery differ? Comparing openings with closings helps expose a pattern of rhetorical or evidentiary weakness that might show up in your trial, and which you can use to your advantage.

3. Analyze Key Witness Testimony: Using the notes you made during closings, watch testimony from each side's key witnesses, which will provide a clear picture of how your opposition conducts direct and cross-exams. If you are pressed for time, on-demand video allows you to skim through whole sessions quickly, stopping to listen to key elements during a session.

Courtroom video is a wellspring of intelligence on an opposing attorney’s strengths and weaknesses inside the courtroom. With competition keener than ever before, harnessing this intelligence can be the key to swinging a critical verdict in a tight case.

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