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Winning an acquittal calls for helping the jury feel reasonable doubt in their bellies

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When jurors process a trial in their heads rather than their bellies and full beings, they are more likely to convict.

Beyond the state of the law, why do judges so actively work against possible criminal defense efforts at jury nullification, and to keep lawyers at the podium while talking (in some jurisdictions)? Those are challenges for the lawyer still to connect heart-to-heart with the jury.

Criminal defense lawyers need to lead jurors to that real discomfort, that knot in the stomach that spells reasonable doubt and the continued presumption of innocence.

How did master persuader lawyer Gerry Spence — whom I was with daily for all of August 1995 at the Trial Lawyers College — get an acquittal from a federal jury for Geoffrey Fieger (conviction rates in federal felony cases are very high), charged with violating campaign finance laws? Did he help the jury feel that reasonable doubt knot in the stomach?

Gerry was in a courthouse that allows lawyers to move around the courtroom as they speak. One witness to the trial described Gerry’s connecting so well with the jury that one day he stroked his hands along the length of the railing in front of the jury, as if to erase that railing as a barrier between Gerry and the jury.

Preparation is essential for any trial. Then, to bring the trial to higher quantum levels of persuasion, the criminal defense lawyer must feel the fire for his or client in the belly, and share that fire with the jury in a persuasive way.