Shane Read has done it again; he has written another must-read book for lawyers and law students. Read’s latest book is Turning Points at Trial: Great Lawyers ShareSecrets, Strategies and Skills. This new work is on a par with his prior award winning books Winning at Deposition and Winning at Trial.
Turning Points at Trial delivers exceptional trial strategies and techniques in an effective and highly readable fashion. Shane Read recruited superb trial lawyers to help with his project and set about interviewing them. Each of those talented lawyers was asked to share the trial skills that turned the trial in their client’s favor. Read gathered transcripts from these lawyers and included excerpts from those transcripts in the book to illustrate the particular trial skills under discussion. Also, Read wanted the ideas in the book to stick with the reader, and this determined which cases he included in his book. Read expressed it this way: “Learning trial skills from great lawyers in the context of these fascinating cases makes them easier to learn and more memorable.”
Here is an example of how turning points in trial are discussed in the book. Chapter 8 “Wage Guerrilla Warfare with the Expert” begins with an introduction to the trial lawyer and the case that will be used to illustrate the trial techniques covered in the chapter. The attorney is Robert S. Bennett, whom Read describes as “one of the country’s finest criminal defense attorneys and crisis management lawyers for corporations.” Following a description of Bennett’s background and the prominent clients he has represented, the chapter provides a synopsis of Zapruder v. United States, the case involving an arbitration of the government’s dispute with Zapruder over the appraisal of the film showing the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Next, Read lays out Bennett’s strategies and techniques including: setting up cross-examination in opening statement and cross-examination principles, such as narrowing cross to one or two points – “less is more”, looking for ways to make the expert look weak or not knowledgeable, and how to use the pitch of your voice when asking a question to indicate doubt or demand an agreement. For the rest of the chapter, Read employs excerpts from the transcript of the Zapruder trial to illustrate the strategies and techniques already discussed plus others. Finally, the chapter concludes with a “Chapter Checklist” summarizing: Bennett’s trial strategies; Bennett’s tips for cross-examination; Bennett’s strategies for cross-examination of expert witnesses; Bennett’s insights for hiring expert witnesses; Summary of cross of Macauley (the government’s appraisal expert); Summary of the cross-examination of Staszyn (another government appraisal expert), and Bennett’s advice for closing argument. Read’s utilizes this approach for each chapter and it is both thorough and engaging.
In addition to covering every aspect of trial work, Turning Points for good measure has chapters on “Depositions” and “Appellate Oral Argument.” Turning Points is Shane Read’s latest engaging masterpiece on trial and appellate advocacy.