Welcome to Season 4 of Face the Jury! In the first episode of the new season, host Lloyd Bell is joined by Jesse Wilson. Jesse is a trial consultant, communications specialist and founder of Tell the Winning Story. During the conversation, they delve into the significance of leveraging the concept of “The Mask” in a jury trial, how to employ the “Victim to Victor” framework, and the importance of building foundational credibility in the courtroom. Fellow attorneys will also learn strategies for more effective courtroom storytelling.
The Victim-to-Victor Approach
Integral to Jesse’s courtroom approach is the “Victim-to-Victor” concept. For trial lawyers, telling the right story in the courtroom requires a deep understanding of your client and how the jury needs to see them. Often, attorneys cast witnesses in the wrong role as victims, limited by their pain, which hinders the jurors’ view of who the client is at their core. Jesse warns that showcasing clients in the wrong role can mean the difference between winning or losing your case.
Jesse’s famous “Victim-to-Victor” approach removes the “victim” mask from the client and transforms them into a “victor” who is defined not by their weaknesses but by their strengths. “Removing the mask,” as Jesse coined it, humanizes clients and reveals who they are outside the courtroom to help better tell their story.
The shift encourages the witness to redefine themselves to recognize their strengths in overcoming challenges. The goal is to convey to the jury that the client is not merely a victim but a resilient individual striving to conquer adversity, which Jesse finds is the subtle game-change in legal storytelling.
The Dual Role of Lawyer and Director
This courtroom strategy has its roots in the theatre. As an actor, Jesse has learned that successful trial lawyers take on a role much like a director, storyteller, and producer – taking care to accurately portray the truth of a client’s story and present the primary message that clients are more than their pain in any case from medical negligence, surgical error, misdiagnoses and more.
In this line of thinking, as a lawyer, your job is to reveal the truth of the characters and situation of the trial to your audience – the jury. This mindset doesn’t minimize their pain but changes the framework to a more powerful and impactful storyline.
The Power of Joy
In crafting truthful, authentic narratives, it is essential to incorporate joy alongside the “Victim-to-Victor” approach. In the case of medical malpractice trials, talking about joy can feel a bit backward. However, Jesse has found joy to be a powerful psychological tool that jurors relate to in their lives, which can make them subconsciously protective of the witness.
Jesse describes joy as the second wing of the plane, essential for the “Victim-to-Victor” story to take flight. Injecting joy into courtroom storytelling gives lawyers and witnesses credibility. It opens up the opportunity to talk about the challenges that got them to where they had to find that joy in life again – which is not typically focused on during trials but gives a powerful human element to cases.
In courtroom storytelling, emphasizing strength over pain and incorporating the transformative power of joy creates authentic stories that resonate with jurors in a field where these tactics are often not utilized. Jesse’s insights offer a fresh and dynamic approach to effective legal advocacy for trial lawyers looking to share their clients’ stories more effectively.
Listen to Jesse’s episode here and stay tuned for the next episode with our host, Lloyd Bell. “Face the Jury” is a podcast dedicated to confronting the issues involving medical malpractice in America– what it is, how to spot it and how to protect you and your family from medical negligence.