New York City Personal Injury Law Blog

Revealing something Unpleasant about the Victim

Posted on Jun 5, 2015 in Personal Injury

Sometimes in a personal injury case, both the attorneys might know something about their clients that is not yet known to the jury. It could be something that is obvious to both the attorneys, but the jury does not know about it yet. How can the lawyers broach this subject which is so clear cut and obvious to them and the judge? But the jury, who are the main people who should know this, is still in the dark.

The Victim might have a Criminal Past

For instance, the client has a criminal background, and both lawyers and the judge know about this. Secondly, the criminal background of the plaintiff has nothing to do with the claims he is making in this particular case. However, it is important that the jury knows about his criminal history. If the plaintiff’s lawyer fails to mention it and does not bring it up, the defense attorney will take this chance and during the opening arguments, he could reveal the fact germane to the plaintiff’s criminal background to the jury.

In such an instance, the plaintiff’s lawyer will be put in an awkward position because it will look like he has tried to hide important information about his client from the jury. The moment the jury thinks that the lawyer is trying to hide information from them – the lawyer will lose some credibility.

Revealing the Facts to the Jury is a Smart Strategy

Personal Injury Case

Being truthful is advantageous in many ways. No different than in so many other aspects of our lives.

Hence, how can lawyers deal with this supposed elephant in the room? When the plaintiff’s lawyer has something this significant that has to be revealed to the jury, then it would be a prudent and methodical strategy to broach this topic during jury selection. At the jury selection, the lawyer can tell the potential jurors that his client has done something in the past that he is not proud of, and that he has a criminal history.

The lawyer will then ask each one of the jurors, whether the criminal history of his client is going to affect their decision about the doctor’s violation of basic standards of medical care. The lawyer will have to make the jurors commit that they are not going to be affected by what his client done in the past, and they will focus on the present case.

Once the lawyer has broached the topic of his client’s criminal past during jury selection, the jurors will have a small hint about this matter. However, they do not know exactly what happened in the past, and they do not know the full extent of it. Now, during the opening arguments, the plaintiff’s lawyer will have to do something in relation to this that is pivotal. The lawyer will tell the jury exactly what crime his client had committed in the past and that his client had paid their dues, spent some time in prison, and paid his price.

Full Disclosure

The plaintiff’s lawyer will do this because he wants to be the first one to tell the jury about this matter, and does not want to give the defense attorney the chance to reveal it to the jury. Based on this reasoning, the defense attorney cannot tell the jury later that the plaintiff’s lawyer was hiding something from them about his client.

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