Thursday, September 23, 2004

A Timely Closing Argument

In a baby murder trial in which the baby finally died of suffocation, the prosecutor -- Michael D'Andrea -- "asked the jury to look at the clock while one minute ticked by -- the amount of time it would have taken [the baby] to suffocate. As the time elapsed, D'Andrea stared directly into [defendant's] face from across the defense table." Michaelangelo Conte, "Jury takes just three hours to convict mother's boyfriend in baby's death," The Jersey Journal pp. A1 & A10 (September 22, 2004).

I saw some fancy lawyering when I practiced law in Texas (many years ago). But New Jersey lawyers, it seems, have their own bags of tricks.

  • Some Gentle Readers out there can surely relate stories about similar forensic tricks they have seen; I doubt that Mr. D'Andrea is the first trial lawyer to ask a jury to literally watch a clock for 60 seconds or so. In civil litigation the best-known parallel, now generally frowned upon, is for plaintiff's counsel in a personal injury case to ask a jury to imagine how much suffering plaintiff must endure each second of his or her life, put a dollar value on each second's suffering, and then tote up all of those dollars and return a handsome verdict for plaintiff.