June 01, 2011

Trial Tactics: Of Demons and Other Acronyms

Charles L. Babcock

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As trial lawyers, we are always striving to tell our client’s story in ways that will be persuasive and resonate with the jury. The use of acronyms can be helpful, especially in long trials. Here is an example.

There was a jury trial in a defamation case that wound up lasting six weeks. The plaintiff was able to show that the market for his product had gone down after the defendant’s publication. It was up to the defendant to explain that it was not the television broadcast that resulted in the damage, but something else. The defense damages expert opined that there were numerous factors affecting the market at that time and these elements caused the decline.

The defendant's expert would, however, only meet the jury late in the case, and the fear is always that opinions
will have been formed by the jurors and positions hardened by that time. So, in this case, defense counsel created an acronym for his position. It was not the broadcast that caused this market to
decline, the defense lawyer said in opening statement; it was the DEMONS. The DEMONS? Yes: Drought, E. Coli, Milo and grain prices, Other media, NAFTA, and Speculation in the market. The DEMONS.

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