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How the Defense Humanizes George Zimmerman

person holding a tablet with the national trial lawyers news webpage on the screen; June 27, 2013

By Darren Kavinoky

What kinds of strategies might the defense team in the George Zimmerman trial be using to humanize their client? Any lawyer who represents people in jury trials knows there’s a lot to manage: Selecting jurors, crafting opening statements and closing arguments, preparing direct and cross-examination questions, and writing legal briefs to name but a few of the plates a trial attorney has to keep spinning.

But as much as trials are a search for truth and justice, they also involve an element of theater, of persuasive presentation -- especially in a criminal case, where lawyers are sometimes called upon to represent those accused (rightly or wrongly) of heinous, horrible, unspeakable acts, sometimes one of the most important things an advocate can do is to humanize their client.

As a veteran of dozens of criminal jury trials, I’ve gained a tremendous amount of insight not just from the legal training I’ve received over the course of my career, but from talking to the jurors in the hallway outside of court. It is these conversations that have taught me more than anything I learned in law school about persuasion.

To read the complete commentary, please visit HLN TV.

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