Nothing but the Truth: Why Trial Lawyers Don't, Can't, and Shouldn't Have to Tell the Whole Truthby Steven Lubet
Pub. Date: 06/11/2012
Publisher: New York University Press
Critics of the adversary system, of course, have little patience for/ti1>
Critics of the adversary system, of course, have little patience for storytelling, regarding trial lawyers as flimflam artists who use sly means and cunning rhetoric to befuddle witnesses and bamboozle juries. Why not simply allow the witnesses to speak their minds, without the distorting influence of lawyers' stratagems and feints?
But Lubet demonstrates that the craft of lawyer storytelling is a legitimate technique for determining the truth and
As with all powerful tools, storytelling may be misused to ill purposes. Therefore, as Lubet explains, lawyers do not have carte blanche to tell whatever stories they choose. It is a creative process to be sure, but every story must ultimately be based on "nothing but the truth." There is no room for lying.
On the other hand, it is obvious that trial lawyers never tell "the whole truth," since life and experience are boundless and therefore not fully describable. No lawyer or court of law can ever get at the whole truth, but the attorney who effectively employs the techniques of storytelling will do the best job of sorting out competing claims and facts, thereby helping the court arrive at a decision that serves the goals of accuracy and justice.
To illustrate the various challenges, benefits, and complexities of storytelling, Lubet elaborates the stories of six different trials. Some of the cases are real, including John Brown and Wyatt Earp, while some are fictional, including Atticus Finch and Liberty Valance. In each chapter, the emphasis is on the narrative itself, emphasizing the trial's rich context of facts and personalities. The overall conclusion, as Lubet puts it, is that "purposive storytelling provides a necessary dimension to our adversary system of justice."
- New York University Press
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- New Edition
- Product dimensions:
- 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)
Table of Contents
Biff and Me: Stories That Are Truer Than True
Edgardo Mortara: Forbidden Truths
John Brown: Political Truth and Consequences
Wyatt Earp: Truth and Context
Liberty Valance: Truth or Justice
Atticus Finch: Race, Class, Gender, and Truth
Sheila McGough: The Impossibility of the Whole Truth
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