Presenting Evidence in Trial - The Belli Seminar

I had the honor last week of speaking at the Belli Seminar, an event organized by the Santa Clara Trial Lawyers Association, held at the Lincoln Law School, in San Jose. A day-long collection of non-stop 10-minute presentations, the seminar was moderated by none other than Melvin Belli Jr., and featured many well-known speakers, including Mark Geragos, Jury Consultants Amy Singer and Tammy Metzger, Tommy (Prince of Torts) Malone, Gerry Spence Trial Lawyers College President Jude Basile, and several top Plaintiff’s attorneys from California, Washington, Texas and New York. I can honestly say that this was one of the best and most educational events I’ve ever attended.

While any of the faculty could have easily covered the entire day on their own, the unique part of this program was that it truly forced each presenter to give the “best of their best,” since we all had only 10 minutes for each presentation, followed by five minutes for questions. My notes and “take-homes” are likely nearly identical to what they’d have been, had each speaker covered an hour or more.

What was interesting to me was that many of the presentations covered similar topics, but each showed a unique approach to the same end goal. Some used no technology at all, while others did. One interesting point brought out by one of the speakers was the desire to put an “image” into your jurors’ minds. I helped to demonstrate how to do that, and how to make sure it’s the right image, and that they all have the same image in mind. Carefully-crafted words often cannot replace a visual display of the evidence.

Image by LegalVision, San Francisco

Jury Consultant Tammy Metzger covered the Reptilian Brain and reading micro-expressions. This was fascinating stuff that you may not even notice – even though you can “feel” the emotions of others around you.

Jury Consultant Amy Singer discussed the Casey Anthony trial, and how she directed the analysis of over 40,000 social media followers. She also shared a demonstration on how to do it even on smaller or low profile cases.

The program wrapped up with a brief Voir Dire of 8 jurors. This was a great learning experience, as was the discussion afterward.

I’ve never seen this type of program presented before, but leave it to Silicon Valley to drive the innovation. For the record, I was the only one presenting from my iPad (using TrialPad). When I asked, well over half of the attendees raised their hands, claiming to own an iPad. The Silicon Valley Plaintiffs Bar is certainly ahead of some other groups I've presented to. Thanks to Ed Vasquez for putting this together and inviting me. After a long week in trial, it was time well spent.

Just received a nice thank-you note John Shepardson, Belli Seminar Chairman:

Thank you so much for presenting at the seminar.  The visuals are huge in what we do, and Mel Belli was a pioneer in Demonstrative Evidence.  Please keep in touch.  The feedback from our members has been hugely positive.

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