Keep eyes on the prize rather than on the prosecutor’s strengths and weaknesses

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Nov 22, 2016 Keep eyes on the prize rather than on the prosecutor’s strengths and weaknesses

Many prosecutors talk tough in the courtroom hallway or on the phone, but deliver seemingly lackluster, cookbook, tepid or even timid performance at trial or at hearings. The strength or weakness of an opponent’ performance is a distraction. Courtroom battle is all about keeping the criminal defense lawyer’s eyes on the prize of winning as best as possible.

The same goes for when a prosecutor delivers an astoundingly powerful and persuasive performance. The trial is not some sort of talent show judged for the “wow” factor of the lawyers, but is all about winning as best as the lawyer can win. As my amazing taijiquan teacher Ben Lo reminds us: “Normally we think that if [our opponent] has 100 pounds of force or power, I better have 150… I need to take my own power down to 0. Then there’s no chasing or spiraling. Nothing can change… I’m not chasing his attributes, or competing, or catching up, or exceeding him. That’s Taijiquan.”

I need to engage my opponent (with full-guns engagement (min. 1:02)), not be distracted by my opponent. Yes, it is important to assess the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses for purposes of developing battle planning, strategizing and negotiations. However, once the criminal defense lawyer is in the courtroom battlefield, his or her eyes need to remain on the prize of persuading the judge and jury.

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