We prepare for jury trial from the first day of our interview with you. Our representation is ever-focused on the plan of action to bring your case to trial and beat the prosecution – period. This is the only way to be effective, even if it is obvious in your case that a negotiated plea will more than likely be the outcome. Preparing for trial from day one gives us the best opportunity to achieve our goals in your case.
Effective trial preparation starts with a reasonable case theory that matches the evidence in the case. The criminal justice system is designed to get to the truth of the matter, and the truth of the matter is measured on the evidence available from the prosecution and defense. We must begin from day one working within the evidence and facts to uncover the case theory and the manner we are going to present the case to the jury or judge.
The jury trial proceeds in the following manner:
- Jury Selection
- First, this process should be called jury deselection, as our purpose here is to find those jurors who are not willing to treat you as though you are innocent until proven guilty, or those jurors who have a particular bias to the kind of case at hand or the persons involved in the trial, including question about race and gender.
- Second, and really the most important part, the question before a jury is always whether the prosecution has proven the case beyond a reasonable doubt, nothing else. Jury selection includes an education as to the burden of proof and what it means to hold the prosecution accountable to the burden of proof. We also cover the historical source of the burden of proof, so people can understand that this feature of our system is fundamental to liberty and freedom. The criminal burden of proof is a cornerstone in our form of government and the freedom we hold so dear – this must be conveyed to the jurors.
- Third, beginning to give the jury important information about the process; the procedure of the trial, the various parts of the process, the people in the courtroom, etc. A jury trial is a strange process to most people and no one wants to feel like they don’t understand. It is our job to make people feel comfortable and answer their questions, so they can pay attention to the evidence and the case at hand, and not worry about the procedure itself.
- Fourth, we also give the jury analogous belief tokens about the important emotional and factual underpinnings to our case. For instance, if we have a case about self-defense, then we talk about that concept, but not in a legal context. We talk about why it is important in life to be able to defend yourself and what it looks like to defend yourself in a reasonable manner. We want to jury to start to think about the fundamental beliefs necessary to understand the evidence in the case and interpret that evidence in a manner consistent with our theory of the case.
- Finally, we select the jury, with the judge, prosecutor and you, and determine through this procedure who will serve on the jury.
- Opening Statements
- This is our first opportunity to tell the jury the facts of the case, and how the prosecution is going to fail to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.
- We meet any challenges to our own case in this step – we tell the truth about our challenges and take the power from the prosecution in offering this kind of evidence against you. We frame this information in a way that fits our theory of the case.
- We also point out what the prosecution will not prove, how they will fail to exclude other innocent explanations for the facts, and about why you are not guilty.
- It is imperative that this statement is accurate, and nothing is promised that cannot be delivered. This is NOT an argument, it is an opportunity to tell the jury how the case will go and how they will determine that you have not committed a crime, by seeing that the prosecution cannot prove you did beyond a reasonable doubt.
- Prosecution Case
- This is the prosecution’s opportunity to present evidence to the jury; testimonial evidence from witnesses, physical evidence related to the case, expert evidence relevant to the facts, etc.
- This is also where much of the defense case exists (and this must be told to jurors in jury selection and opening). The defense is given the opportunity to cross-examine witness and challenge the evidence. This is the defense case – the questioning and doubt associated with the evidence. The jury must understand that it is very difficult to prove a negative, evidence of where you were not, and that questioning the evidence of the prosecution is the case of the defense. We do not allow the prosecution to convince the jury that the defense case will come after – this is it.
- Challenges in this part of the case require a deep and agile understanding of the rules of evidence. This is an area of exceptionality for us at the Ambeau Law Firm. Having the extensive jury experience we have and a unrelenting study of the code of evidence and the court decisions related to the code, gives us a distinct advantage in this part of any jury trial.
- Defense Case
- Do we have a case to present? As we said above, it is exceedingly difficult to prove a negative. Prove exactly where you were at 4:10 am on a date two years ago… Usually the people that can testify to this information are related to you, or very close, and can be challenged on their bias. We use the information we have, and this can be a particularly difficult challenge.
- Do you testify? I am not in the set of criminal defense attorneys that thinks “defendants should not testify, ever.” In fact, I want you to feel comfortable taking the stand and telling your story. We spend time in preparation of any testimony by our clients, including mock direct and cross examination in our office, that we record on video to review. This is an exceptional tool in being comfortable with courtroom testimony. I know most people want to stand up and scream that they are innocent – we give you that chance, when appropriate, and assist you in doing so in a way that serves your best interest.
- Experts? This is a question often answered by resources. Can we afford to spend the resources on experts? However, it is not always important to hire experts in a case, and resources are often spent on better tools for us at trial than hiring an expert. WE make this decision together and with honest and meaningful information about the advantages and disadvantages of experts in your case.
- Closing Argument
- This is actually the place we start in our trial preparation – we being at the end. We must know where we are going and the story we are telling (our theory) in order to undertake every part of the jury trial we have discussed thus far. The old adage “you have to know where you are going in order to get there” is applicable to our task here. We formulate our theory of the case and prepare the entire trial as a sign-posting for our effective closing. At the Ambeau Law Firm we are exceptional at this part of the jury trial – laying out the roadmap, building the roads, and bringing the jury home, this is what we do.
Jury trial work is not a guess. Effective jury trial work is not spontaneous or ‘off-the-cuff’, it requires a tremendous effort and understanding. At the Ambeau Law Firm we are prepared and ready to bring our immense effort and experience to the courtroom, and fight the prosecution with every ounce of our being. We ae formidable combatants of the State and Government, and we will bring the fight for you.