Good Lawyers need Good Judgment

Law is a subjective pursuit. Only after everything is said and done can you look back and diagnose the good and the bad. But when you are in the heat of battle in a lawsuit, there rarely are any clearly right answers…or clearly wrong answers for that matter. Sometimes you just have to jump off a cliff and hope for the best.

Presenting your case in a court of law is highly subjective. Ultimately, only the viewpoint of the judge or jury matters, and their viewpoint may be very different from your own. Remember that you have lived with your case for years before it ever sees the light of day at trial. In some Trust and Will cases, the family issues have taken decades to develop to the point where litigation starts. There is no way a judge or jury will understand or see the issues from your perspective…not completely.

The goal then is to exercise good judgment to decide how to present your case at each stage of the litigation. By the time you get to trial, you should know a lot about the evidence you have, the witnesses you have, and (more importantly) the evidence you do NOT have. You should also know the facts, witnesses, and documents the opposing party has as well.

The mistake many parties make is to take ALL the facts, witnesses, and documents into trial to present to the judge or jury. That can be a BIG mistake. Trying to deluge a judge or jury with too much information is a great way to paralyze them from making any decision.

The better approach is to narrow down the information to the most important issues you want to address. You don’t want to carpet-bomb the court, you want to make a targeted strike that will get to the heart of the issues you care the most about.

For example, if you want to have a Trustee removed, focus on the facts that support removal, but do not focus on facts that have nothing to do with removal (such as the Trustee’s DUI from twenty years ago, or their ten-year-old bankruptcy filing). Facts from the distant past rarely persuade a judge to take action NOW. For Trustee removal, you need facts that show imminent danger will occur if removal is not granted.

Moreover, you really need to pick your top three strongest arguments and go only with those three points. And then drop two of them. It sounds silly to narrow you case to a single point, but the beauty of simplification is that it makes decisions simple. The problem with simplification is you must exercise good judgment to decide which arguments to focus on. Plus, it takes a lot of work to figure out which claims are the best versus the worst.

Judgment makes all the difference when it comes to simplification. And without simplification, your case is sunk because confusion causes paralysis in decision making.