I received a press release from Dr. Noelle Nelson today arguing that attorneys should take the style of Twitter tweets into account when writing their opening statements to juries. Dr. Nelson argues that juries of today are used to a different way of communicating than juries that attorneys became used to 10 or 15 years ago.
- Use short sentences. Express just one thought per sentence. Texting, twittering and instant messaging all rely on short bursts of information. These are easier for jurors to absorb than the long often-convoluted sentences typical of lawyer briefs.Now, hidden within all the trendy technospeak about Twitter and text messages are some real points about making arguments clear and concise. But I think that most jurors would expect more erudition and eloquence from attorneys than "@jury omg, my client totally didn't do it. is that prsctr crazy or what? lol #totallyinnocent"
- Get to the point. People who text and tweet find ways to say what they have to say in an immediate, no frills fashion.
- Title your points. A short burst of information is followed by another, related, short burst, in most texting and tweets. Always give a title to your point. You can then go on to elaborate and refer to the title to help jurors stay on track.
Plus, serving up your arguments in Twitter-friendly chunks only increases the likelihood that the jury will actually put what you're saying on Twitter. Which has done more damage to many trials than one or two long-winded arguments in an opening or closing statement.