The following article is adapted from Carl Bettinger’s Twelve Heroes, One Voice: Guiding Jurors to Courageous Verdicts.
All too often, the question “What is your case about?” is met with responses filled with jargon, medical terms, and professional indifference:
“It’s a med-mal case for failure to diagnose breast cancer.”
“It’s a birth-injury case with CP.”
“My client is charged with being a felon in possession.”
We choose this language because it contains familiar shorthand that other attorneys will understand. But our courtroom audience is not a sophisticated legal audience; it’s a mishmash of teachers and tech writers, grandparents and grad students: people for whom common courtroom terms like plaintiff and defendant are often intimidating and ambiguous.