The right demonstrative in closings can serve as a powerful exclamation point to your argument that jurors will keep top-of-mind as they deliberate. And in the latest episode of Trial Technique Spotlight, nationally renowned trial presentation expert Shane Read details how Richard Carroll’s oversized demonstrative in closings of a medical negligence trial helped clear a California hospital.
A California woman claimed Riverside Community Hospital allowed doctors to use imitation metal screws in her spinal fusion surgery, leading her to suffer chronic pain. The hospital argued that the FDA had never determined the hardware was counterfeit and that doctors had obtained the woman’s informed consent regarding the procedure.
At trial, the plaintiff argued that signatures on the consent form were not hers. During his cross-exam of the plaintiff, Carroll presented the woman with paperwork containing a number of signatures, and asked her to circle which ones were not made by her.
Then, in closings, he showed jurors a posterboard blowup of the signatures on the paperwork he had presented to her.
“Three of the things that she said were not hers were signatures she made for us at her deposition,” Carroll told jurors, before going on to compare a signature on the paperwork with the woman's consent form signature.
In analyzing the technique, Read said Carroll’s decision to use a posterboard featuring the signatures made the demonstrative particularly memorable.
“He doesn’t highlight it from the... slide. He blows up this huge exhibit so the jurors can see the signatures,” Read said. “We can almost read the signatures from the video. Imagine if you were just a few feet away in the jury box, how easy it would be to see those signatures and that they were all alike.”
Read said that Carroll’s use of the oversized demonstrative was a strong example of finding a way to memorably highlight key evidence at trial. “Think about demonstrative exhibits you can create during the trial,” Read said, adding that a demonstrative’s presentation is critical to its power. “The jury’s got to be able to see the exhibit you created."
The California jury cleared the hospital after a trial in which the plaintiff’s attorneys sought more than $2 million.
This is the latest in CVN’s ongoing series, Trial Technique Spotlight, with Shane Read. Read is one of the nation's leading trial presentation experts and an award-winning author who has helped thousands of lawyers transform their deposition, trial, and oral advocacy skills through in-house training programs, one-on-one coaching, and keynote speeches. And in each episode of Trial Technique Spotlight, he uses CVN’s trial video to detail the techniques the nation’s top attorneys use, and how to best use them in your own cases.
Watch the full trial featured in this episode.
Not a subscriber?