How-to: Guide the Jury Through the Verdict Form in Closing Argument

Michael Kelleher has a great post on the Cogent Legal blog about guiding a jury through the verdict form in closing argument. The post aims to help attorneys — plaintiff’s in Michael’s example — understand what they must present to the jury in order to help the jury get to where you want them to end — a verdict for your side.

Michael admits his closing argument isn’t very good, but the concepts are spot-on.

Michael uses Adobe Illustrator to set up the presentation, though I think there’s a much more powerful method to present the same arguments and actually show your jury how to properly fill out the verdict form with your Android tablet.

Check out this video for the core concepts:

This process follows the pleading signing methods, except you’ll preload the verdict form so all the jury sees is the form.

To make this work the best (stylistic speaking), you’ll want to load the directly to your tablet in PDF format. You can do this by exporting the PDF file from Dropbox (I save mine to a particular file, or Documents — make sure it’s easy to find:

Dropbox Export
Click the image to see a larger version.

Or transfer the file directly to your tablet using the USB cable.

First, find the file on your tablet and open the document in ezPDF Reader — you could also do this in RepliGo Reader using the “Draw” function.

ezPDF Reader Jury Verdict Form
Click the image to see a larger version.

Note: for stylistic purposes, you can remove the toolbar at the top by clicking the settings > edit at the top left. From there, just remove the unwanted featuresDo not remove “Freehand” or Drawing.

Edit List ezPDF Reader
Click the image to see a larger version.

Now the real fun can start.

You’ll be using the Freehand or Signature function to draw on your verdict form, exactly like we did when we signed a pleading. Just fill in the slots (hopefully your form is cleaner looking than mine) and describe the process to the jury.

Filled Out Verdict Form
Click the image to see a larger version.

Of course, you’ll want to use your stylus, versus your finger — I used my finger — to get the best results, and don’t forget to zoom in close so the jury can see the boxes you want them to mark.

There’s a great comment on the original post that highlights the importance of walking your jury through the process:

What we lose sight of sometimes as trial lawyers is the fact that many jurors need to be educated on how to come to a decision based upon the facts and the law. Use of a verdict form and jury instructions and going through it step by step are key.

Bingo, and that’s the very reason you’re one step closer to a favorable verdict. And don’t forget to read the original post so you can grasp the core concepts.

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Jeff Taylor

I’m just an ordinary guy living an extraordinary life. I’m also an attorney and I blog about Android for lawyers. You can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Google+.