Tribute to Howard Nations-The Spielberg Method

 At times in jury selection I am faced with overcoming a jury bias about frivolous lawsuits.

The problem with challenging the belief is that it will not succeed.  In the words of the great Washington State trial lawyer, Paul Luvera, “You can challenge people on their bias, their life experience, and their values, but it is a waste of time.” 

Conversely,  agreeing with the belief is disingenuous  as we know most lawsuits are not frivolous. Being disingenuous with the jury is false and sensed by the panel. 

When faced with a jury panel where members express the belief many lawsuits are without merit Howard Nations teaches “The Spielberg Method” which suspends the bias belief for the life of the trial.

 When I am faced with a juror or a group of jurors who are tort reform/frivolous lawsuit believers I copy Howard Nations and The Spielberg Method:

 First, I acknowledge the frivolous lawsuit tort reform bias. Not only do I acknowledge it I help justify it. “Mr. Jones I understand you are saying our legal system must ferret out bad lawsuits. You believe our legal system has no room for a frivolous lawsuit.”

Second. I link my case and my client with the bias. “Mr. Jones, Brad Barnes and I agree with you. A frivolous lawsuit clogs up the court and delays recovery for a legitimately injured person.”

Third, I then agree with the jurors to suspend the bias during the life of our trial.”Mr. Jones do you agree there are proper lawsuits with legitimately injured people?” “Can you agree if we demonstrate Brad Barnes has a proper lawsuit with a legitimate injury to provide justice as a juror in the form of fair compensation?”

Prove Legitimate Case. As with all cases, to succeed in The Spielberg method I must demonstrate a solid personal injury case from opening statement through closing argument. I show my client is a straightforward honest person with permanent injury. No overstatement, no gilding. I prove injury and damages to a decent person who is legitimately injured. This is done in a simple common sense way so the picture is clear with no confusion.

Closing and Frame of Reference. During closing argument I return to the mutual promises. In jury selection I promised to demonstrate a proper lawsuit and a legitimately injured person. Remember we discussed there are proper lawsuits that deserve compensation. I remind the jury they agreed to provide justice in the form of reasonable compensation for a proper lawsuit. Here we have a proper lawsuit and you now have the job to recognize it and distinguish it from a bad lawsuit by providing fair compensation.

Although the bias is this still there it has been suspended during the trial. In fact  the bias has been reinforced as the jurors now have recognized there is a frame of reference from which to distinguish the bad from the good. “Fortunately, you are jurors on a legitimate lawsuit and your verdict will  show that in our community a legitimately injured person receives fair compensation.”

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13 Responses to “Tribute to Howard Nations-The Spielberg Method”

  1. […] Tribute to Howard Nations-The Spielberg Method | Zen Lawyer Seattle

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