Trial advocacy and the art of rhetoric are becoming absent in our court system. In one of my earlier blogs I featured an article about the disappearing jury trial. Along with the disappearing jury trial are naturally - disappearing trial lawyers.
As a student of trial advocacy, I know one must continue to study in order to grow. The best way to learn any skill is to study the masters; those who came before you and set examples of how to do it best.
Recently I picked up a book written nearly sixty years ago by one of the greats. The book is simply titled, "My Life In Court" and was written by a well known trial attorney named Louis Nizer. I sought out this book after it was cited several times by other authors I had read, so I decided to see what it I could learn from it. I am glad I did. Although written decades ago, it could have been written this year. This is because human nature hasn't changed and neither has our jury trial system.
Of continued education and professional growth, he writes, "Men who graduate from that apocryphal university known as the School of Experience, usually continue to take postgraduate courses. Unlike some degree-holding college graduates, their education does not stop upon receipt of their diploma. As Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler, former President of Columbia University, once put it, 'Most men die at twenty-five and are buried at sixty-five'"
It is clear that Nizer was passionate about his calling. He writes about the significance of juries, "The swearing in of the jury is a solemn rite. At that moment the housewife and shopkeeper become judges - judges of facts. The residing judge is supreme in determining the applicable law, but even he cannot interfere with jurors in their exclusive right to decide the facts."
Certainly, Louis Nizer understood human behavior having tried countless trials during his storied career. His observations about jury trials and litigants are as true today as they were sixty years ago. Any student of trial advocacy would be well served by reading the works of this master trial attorney.