Without question, the ultimate goal of every trial lawyer is to win. To accomplish this goal, the lawyer must find a way to capture the jurors' attention with an impression that will last beyond summations and well into deliberations. To this end, the manner in which an argument is communicated can be as important as the content of the argument itself.
In every trial there are key facts and positions that must be emphasized. While the trial lawyer can certainly emphasize a key fact, position or argument by raising or lowering his or her voice, that technique, by itself, is not nearly as powerful as other rhetorical devices available to the trial advocate. Certain techniques in speaking to the jury can and should be utilized to bring forth your points in the strongest possible fashion.
THE RULE OF THREES
The "Rule of Threes" is a powerful communication device that we have all seen while growing up -- even if we have not noticed it as such in everyday life. A simple look at stories, phrases and slogans with which we are all familiar proves the point. It is hard to find anyone who is not familiar with "The Three Little Pigs," "Three Blind Mice," "Goldilocks and the Three Bears," The Three Musketeers or The Three Stooges. It is equally hard to find someone who is not familiar with the sayings and phrases "I came, I saw, I conquered," "Go, fight, win" or even "Three strikes and you're out." It is these titles, sayings and phrases that are easy to remember and should serve as a guide for the trial lawyer.
Indeed, throughout history, powerful public speakers have used so-called triads to bring home a lasting image. Martin Luther King Jr., for instance, in his speech "Non-Violence and Racial Justice," utilized the phrase "insult, injustice and exploitation" followed a few lines later by "justice, good and brotherhood." To the opposite effect, Alabama Governor George Wallace, during his 1963 inaugural address, stated his position in harsh and ugly terms: "Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever."
For the trial lawyer's summation, this device allows you to emphasize a point and then instantly re-emphasize that same point by repeating some of the language just used, adding to that language for emphasis, and then stating that same point or theme with a change in voice. If used properly, this technique will drive the point home for the jury and leave little doubt as to the importance of the point or position taken by the advocate.
Imagine, for example, the scenario in which a lawyer represents a man in a wrongful death case. That man was driving with his child when his car was struck at an intersection by a truck. As a result of the severity of the impact the man's child -- his daughter -- was killed. In this example, the trial lawyer could begin the summation by presenting a bare bones statement of his position:
"A man was driving a car. His daughter was a passenger in the car. A truck went through a light, struck the man's car and, unfortunately, the little girl was injured and later died. The truck driver was negligent."
Compare and contrast that beginning of the summation to one with use of the Rule of Threes:
When John Smith got into his car that morning he could not have imagined what was about to take place.