Leaving the Jury All Atwitter
I'm not sure what to think of this.
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.
Nelson has the following suggestions for trial practitioners:
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.
- 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.
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"
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.