There is a tension at play every day in courthouses throughout the United States. Skilled litigators, trained in our adversarial system, want more than anything to win. This desire pushes lawyers to theatrics in the courtroom because the art of persuasion relies so heavily on emotion. Attorneys feel they have to appeal to the jurors’ passions to convince them not just that the facts and law are on their side, but also that the jury should care enough to hand them the verdict. The case of Kyle Rittenhouse captivated the attention of much of the American public. For many, it became the play that we couldn’t stop watching. In this CLE, career prosecutor and ethics instructor David A. Lord, will use the Rittenhouse trial to examine the ethical pitfalls that can occur at each of the four primary parts of a trial – opening statement; an attorney’s presentation of their case (i.e. direct examination of witnesses); cross examination of the opposing side’s witnesses; and closing argument. At each of these junctures there are unique dangers where over-dramatization can shift a jury’s focus away from the evidence and towards the attorneys in a way that undermines the search for the truth. This CLE will explore the evidentiary and constitutional guardrails that exist at each stage and argues that only through the diligent enforcement of these rules, can the courts continue to fulfill their mission of discovering the truth.
Accreditation of this program is approved through October 31, 2022.