Blawgletter enjoys Anne Reed’s Deliberations, in which she grapples with "law, news, and thoughts on juries and jury trials". We recommend it.
A post today explains our affection. It relates the phenomenon of "story gaps" to a recent study in the Journal of Consumer Research. The study shows that consumers distrust pitches that tell only the good or bad side of a story. Trial lawyers intuit the same conclusion — and, as Ms. Reed counsels, they should therefore deliver the bad news themselves before the other side does.
Blawgletter also loves Ecclesiastes, especially chapter 1, verse 9. It says that "there is no new thing under the sun." Which reminds us that, even before the Bible and the Journal of Consumer Research, we had Aristotle, who taught the principles of rhetoric. He maintained that the most important aspect of persuasion — the persuader’s ethos or personal character — includes virtue. And a key aspect of virtue involves demonstration of disinterest.
What better way to establish disinterest than to admit weakness? One might even catch oneself in the midst of an exaggeration — the defendants "clearly meant to defraud investors" — by saying "wait a minute. I bet they don’t see it that way. You’ll have to judge for yourselves."
Aristotle thought that a speaker should establish her ethos with the words she spoke. One way to get there — confess the obvious.