Discovery “Story Boarding”
A case comes into your office. If you are a defense firm you receive the filed complaint, so you know what the cause of actions are being alleged. If you are a plaintiff firm, a client comes in with the story of being wronged. Plaintiff presents the case and defense picks up the story and begins the discovery of how to defend the client. Whether you are a plaintiff or a defense attorney you both have the responsibility of building your case.
The initial step of working your case begins with, “What is this case about?” Each side will have their own version of what happened, why it happened and was it avoidable. Too often the nuances of the details are ignored during the process of discovery.
An effective tool is to story board your discovery. The trial team can share the storyboard. The lead lawyer will be updated with the evidence as it comes in allowing for guidance and a platform for building the story of the case. It is also a great tool to use for preparing your witnesses. You will have mapped out the witnesses and what you anticipate their testimony to be in your deposition and in trial. This technique will assist the trial team in building the case with a story that is supported with evidence. There will be no overlaps or cumulative evidence or testimony. The storyboard is also useful in determining the lineup of the witnesses for trial.
The storyboard is a spring board to create your visual presentation of your case. You can create a timeline of dates, events and add the photos that support your case. It is important to help the jury understand who knew what and when. You can highlight favorable and honorable characteristics of your case.
It is during discovery that you develop your themes, banners and strategy. If you can see the big picture of your case then the presentation will be clear and reasonable.
Themes are designed to brand the issues giving a descriptive message. They are also used to provide milestones and give a time frame. Themes and banners will guide and connect the jury to your case. They describe the intentions of the case and will keep the jury focused on your story not the opponents. You want the jury to understand the intelligence of the case.
Additional tools to use in discovery are Focus Groups/Mock Trials and Internet Surveys. They will give you an opportunity to get feedback regarding your trial strategies, themes, case value and credibility of witnesses.
Note: The key to success in working up your case is to “Think outside the Box.”