Trial Lawyer Talk
61: Marj Russell
About this episode of Trial Lawyer Talk
In this episode of Trial Lawyer Talk, Marjorie Russell, a wise, thoughtful, and highly strategic trial lawyer consultant, shares a methodology for how to take the weakest aspects of your case, the ones that keep you up at night, the ones that you’re scared of in your voir dire, and turn them into part of a winning trial story. Marjorie discusses aspects of discovering the story, of connecting with the client, of going to those places that seem the most dangerous, and of working through them and integrating them into the heart of a case.
About Marjorie Russell
Marjorie Russell of MARJury Consulting lives in Michigan. She specializes in holistic case development; client, witness, and lawyer preparation; and jury selection. Marjorie has been a law professor for many years. She graduated from Gerry Spence’s first Trial Lawyers College (TLC) class over 25 years ago. Marjorie has been on the faculty of TLC ever since training some of the best lawyers in the country.
About this case
Marjorie discusses a case of a 19-year old man named David who got into a car accident causing two broken wrists and neck and lower back problems. Four years later, he had undergone surgery and his hands were still injured and he was in pain. David was unemployed, living in his parents’ home, and drinking heavily. In depositions, he seemed lazy, greedy, and like he was waiting for a large payout from the accident. David’s lawyer felt the jury would reject him because he could not get David “to talk about himself in a way where he didn’t validate the picture that the defense lawyers wanted to paint.” He called Marjorie to help.
Marjorie tells the story of how she helped turn the situation around for the trial. She says, “I think my best help is connecting with people and helping them feel comfortable fully being themselves, especially about the things that people want to attack them for.” In reality, David was a good person who “had reached a point of hopelessness.” They turned the story around from David as a “bad, irresponsible, horrible person” into a story of David suffering because so much had been taken away from him. In the end, it was a winning trial and “a story of redemption” for David.
Marjorie ends Trial Lawyer Talk with, “That's my reward. When I see the healing and when I see the confidence. When I know that the lawyer has been able to take what we’ve discovered and make magic with it - that the jurors are lighting up with recognition. They know what that's about. They understand that kind of struggle and that he did become a hero in his own life. And that is the bottom line for me. I want to know how has the person were helping become a hero in their own life, and how can we show that story?”