Humor at Trial

I read a series of articles in Trial Magazine on cross-examining experts at trial. One article revolved around a joke the lawyer made and how everyone laughed, except for the expert. The moral of the article is that the expert’s failure to laugh at the joke “showed the witness’s pomposity” and was the “key to the jury acceptance of [plaintiff’s] experts and their credibility.”

I’m sure the joke played as the author suggests. But a jury trial is typically not conducive to humor. I’ve seen many efforts at humor—including my own efforts that I thought at the time were good—fail miserably. This is true in a shorter trial where the jury has not had an extended time to warm up to you and relax. Chris Rock would have a hard time being funny in an opening statement.

My advice: if you are not sure it will be funny, leave that club in your bag. Only a funny person can get away with prepared humor during a jury trial. Not sure if you are funny? You are not.

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