Latest from Persuasion Matters

We are a nation hopelessly addicted to a constant flow of information, from the important to the trivial, continuously streamed to us through our little glowing devices. Think back to the last time you were on an airplane and were told to shut down your laptop and put your cell phone on airplane mode. You, and everyone around you, probably waited until the absolute last second, or ignored the instructions altogether until the flight attendant…
Remember the college admissions scandal with the Hollywood elite? The writers of “Bull” used it as fodder for this week’s episode, “Quid Pro Quo,” only the alleged bribe occurred 10 years ago. (Photo: David M Russell/CBS) Dr. Samir Shadid, a respected New York heart surgeon, is accused of bribing his way into college. He’s arrested just moments after performing a life-saving surgery. The hospital subsequently puts him on probation, and Dr. Shadid hires…
In this week’s episode, “Behind the Ivy,” 16-year-old Antonio Garcia is worried about “making weight” for his wrestling competition. He’s three pounds over his class and has five hours to shed the excess. His coach says, “You know what you gotta do.” And he does. Chris Jackson as Chunk Palmer, and Michael Weatherly as Dr. Jason in ‘Bull’ season 4 episode 12. (Photo by CBS Broadcasting, Inc.) Four hours later, Antonio is running…
Testifying is stressful, regardless of topic. But when it’s about something personal, the witness requires even more intensive coaching to stay composed. Courtesy of CBS Nothing says Happy New Year like a “Bull” episode with a predictably ridiculous happy ending. This week’s episode, “Look Back in Anger,” involves a civil trial alleging sexual abuse of a minor during camp for at-risk boys. The challenge, however, is the abuse occurred about 25 years ago.…
This week’s episode, “Imminent Danger,” involves stalking, a murder charge, and of course, a jury trial. Erin Flemming believes her ex-boyfriend, Garrett Kurtz, is stalking her. Creepy things keep happening with her electronics (photos pop up on her work computer, her thermostat randomly jumps to 107 degrees in the middle of the night, etc.) and he seems to be in every public venue she goes to. She’s filed a restraining order, however, there’s…
What to do when you and your client don’t see eye to eye on trial strategy? Grit your teeth and figure it out. The most recent episode of CBS’s “Bull” involves the “selfie injury” of a teenager, James Donovan, who was attempting to capture a selfie while sitting on the rooftop sign of a pizza restaurant. The sign breaks, the boy falls to the pavement, and is now a paraplegic. The restaurant is…
This week’s episode of “Bull” opens on the Crawford brothers, Charlie, 13, and Theo, 17, home alone one afternoon. Charlie persuades his older brother to open their father’s locked gun safe for a little show-and-tell. Charlie wants to hold the gun, and while Theo is resistant, he acquiesces. Hearing a ruckus and fearing Mom and Dad have returned home, Theo leaves the room momentarily for a little recon. As he re-enters the room, Charlie shoots…
In two recent blog posts (here and here), I resurrected one of my favorite books on communication: Dr. Frank Luntz’s “Words that Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear.” Although his approach is often political, I believe Dr. Luntz’s “Rules of Effective Language” apply just as easily to the world of litigation and courtroom persuasion. Because words matter. In this installment, I’ll finish up with rules 7-10. Rule…
This week’s episode, “Killer Doctor,” is chock full of goodies. We have a woman dying of terminal cancer. Experimental drugs. A grieving brother and son. The murder of the treating physician. A confession (or two). And the bonus? We even get a dash of that last-minute, yet far-fetched, Bull team sleuthing. Good stuff. It’s a tad convoluted (what else is new), but here’s the gist: Lily Zbyszek learns that her cancer has spread to…
Did CBS hire a new team of writers for “Bull” this season? I hate to jinx anything, but the S4 episodes have actually had quasi-plausible storylines. What is happening? I don’t know, but I can tell you what is not happening: jury consulting. Or not much of it, at least. And I have to admit, the lack of jury consulting absurdities is making my job as a columnist more challenging. But who doesn’t like a…