The Foggy Narrative

After four months of confusion in their effort to prove more than 150 counts of fraud, prosecutors in the Dewey trial ended in a mistrial. They failed because they never told a real story, a clear narrative for the jury to follow. An artful legal case, to persuade, needs a focal point to interest the jury, a composition they can follow where all pieces fit into an understandable whole. That's the difference between art and confusion, between a narrative that grabs attention and makes sense, versus a mess that makes jurors give up. Without art in the narrative, it's just a formless swamp of legalese. And swamps don't persuade people. Lawyers can't blame the jurors or the jury system for not being smart enough or sophisticated enough to follow the lawyers' brilliant complexity. It's the lawyer's job, it's on the lawyer, to understand the plain art of lawyering--the ability to explain the truth with a concise, focused, makes-sense narrative.

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