Mock Trial, anyone?

We just concluded a mock trial for one of our clients. Yes, that’s the same “mock” meaning “to make fun of”, but we weren’t making fun of trial. We were preparing for trial.

You see, we often have a really hard time knowing what potential jurors are going to think of our client’s case. If we don’t understand how a jury will feel, or what the weaknesses of the case are, our client won’t receive the justice she deserves. One of the best ways for us to understand the weaknesses and strengths of our case is to present it to people who don’t have any interest in the outcome and don’t know anything about the case beforehand. So, for an afternoon we were like high school students and we presented our 3-day case to a small Benton/Franklin County mock jury. And we thoroughly enjoyed the process.

Each paralegal at Anderson Law played a different witness. Edwardo Morfin, our associate attorney (pictured below), was the judge. You can see he took his role very seriously.

Ned Stratton argued for the plaintiff (the real plaintiff), and I argued for the defendant. Yes, I was the cold-hearted defense attorney working for the insurance company. Except the mock jurors didn’t know anything about insurance. In fact, they were instructed to not consider insurance. But, they may have guessed that I wasn’t hired by my poor client. They also may have guessed that my poor client didn’t have the money to pay for an expensive accident reconstructionist to fly from Timbuktu to the Tri-Cities. Then again, maybe they thought I was just working pro bono for my client, a Pasco car accident victim.

I argued the defendant’s case very well. There’s no way he had any fault for this collision. Just because he signaled one way and turned the other… I quickly realized that the position I was taking wasn’t very realistic. So, in my closing argument I caved a little and admitted that my client was probably partly responsible for the collision. Just a little bit. But even if the jury found for the plaintiff, they shouldn’t award all of the medical expenses and an award for pain and suffering of $2,000 was more than adequate to compensate her for her injuries.

The mock jurors didn’t like my arguments. They found that the defendant was mostly at fault and they awarded much more than my recommended amount. In other words, Ned won. Were they realistic in their verdict? Only time will tell. But each of us learned a little more about how we should present the case in a way that we hope brings our client some measure of justice.

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