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How To Win Trial Manual - Fifth Edition

ISBN: 978-1-57823-311-3
Author: Ralph Adam Fine
Page Count: 700
Published: January 2011
Media Desc: 1 Hardcover Volume. Appendices. Index.
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Win More Cases and Help More Clients!
Ralph Adam Fine pulls no punches. In the 5th edition of his highly acclaimed How-To-Win Trial Manual shows why the traditional ways to try a case in court are suicidal, and gives extensive examples of such suicidal advocacy by famous, high-profile, well-paid trial lawyers.

In each of His examples, Ralph Adam Fine shows how the lawyers could have done a better job. This will help you hone your winning skills! Ralph Adam Fine also demonstrates why many of Irving Younger’s famous Ten Commandments of Cross-Examination are not only wrong, but why following them significantly reduces your chances of winning.

Since it was first published by JURIS in 1998, Ralph Adam Fine’s The How-To-Win Trial Manual has been giving lawyers that special edge so they can win even the toughest cases. Now, in this newly revised 5th edition, The How-To-Win Trial Manual takes the unique extra step of showing how and why famed trial lawyers Vincent Bugliosi and Gerry Spence, both superb advocates, could have been even more effective in their ground breaking face-off when Bugliosi “prosecuted” and Spence “defended” Lee Harvey Oswald in connection with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

The trial, memorialized in a superb two-disc DVD set, On Trial: Lee Harvey Oswald, was before a sitting Texas federal district-court judge and a jury of Dallas citizens taken from the Dallas jury rolls. Although the trial was more than two-decades removed from the assassination, Bugliosi and Spence managed to get as witnesses many of the people who were at the assassination and its aftermath; none of the witnesses testifying in the trial were actors. The “trial” was in London, in a replica of a Texas federal courtroom, and both Bugliosi and Spence gave it their all—preparing as they would have for a real trial, and arguing their respective positions with the gusto for which each is justifiably famous.

Ralph Adam Fine has taken the transcript of the two-disc DVD set and shown with his interleaved comments, as he has done with the O.J. Simpson, Martha Stewart, and Enron (Jeffrey Skilling and Ken Lay) trials, as well as a federal-court antitrust trial, how Bugliosi and Spence could have been better. The Oswald chapter, new for the fifth edition, will help all trial lawyers nail the winning techniques to be successful in the courtroom.

The Fifth edition also gives us Ralph Adam Fine’s special insights into the strategies and trial techniques of the prosecution and defense in the murder trial of Michael Peterson, memorialized in the six-hour DVD set, Death on the Staircase. Peterson was charged with killing his wife. He claimed at trial that she accidentally fell down the stairs in their Durham, North Carolina, mansion. This chapter, too, is new for the fifth edition How-To-Win Trial Manual and it shows what works and what does not work and why. It will help lawyers avoid the common traps that sink even the best “plans well laid.”

The How-To-Win Trial Manual shows how to win by using your most powerful tool: The jury’s belief that you, the lawyer, know the “truth” of the case. Ralph Adam Fine also shows how to ask questions on both direct-examination and cross-examination so the jury will know the answers before the witnesses (whether lay or expert) respond. Simply put, if you phrase your questions so that the jury answers them the way you want, before your witnesses answer and irrespective of what your adversary’s witnesses may say on cross-examination, you will win! For a further explanation of Ralph Adam Fine's - and winning - techniques, as well as what other lawyers have said about The How To Win Trial Manual, visit his website

Ralph Adam Fine shows you how to do all of this and more! You and your clients deserve no less!

Table of Contents


1.  The Royal Road and the Art of Persuasion 

How this book will help you win your trials, every time!


2.  Truth in the Courtroom

Why trials are not "searches for the truth," and why knowing that will help you win.


3.  Jury Consultants

The myth of jury consultancy; why jury consultants are largely irrelevant.


4.  You Are the Key to Winning 

You, not your witnesses, not your experts, not the law, not the judge, hold the keys to victory.


5.  Your Winning Theme 

How to plan a theme that will make the jurors want you to win.


6.  Building a Winning Theme 

How to assemble a theme that will make the jurors want you to win.

7.  Tools of Persuasion

How to use primacy, recency, and repetition to win.

8.  Opening Arguments

Why opening statements by most lawyers--even the ones with superb reputations--are terrible. This chapter will give you step-by-step tools to win from the get-go.

9.  Using Your Bad Facts to Win

How to make the "stumbling blocks" into stepping stones to victory.


10.  The Burden of Proof 

Why you should never rely on the burden of proof in your opening statement.


11.  Don't Sound Like a Lawyer 

Never use the jargon they taught you in law school.


12.  Empathy 

How to use Hollywood's tools to grab your jurors and make them want you to win.


13.  An Annotated Version of Dan Petrocelli's Opening Statement on Behalf of Jeffrey Skilling in the Enron Trial


 14. The Opening Statement: An Annotated Demonstration

An analysis of the winning tools in action.


15.  The Three Rules of Direct-Examination

Why you should never ask "what happened next?" Never let the witness--whether lay or expert--tell a story or sell. Follow these three rules to argue your case to the jury through the witness. 


16.  Direct-Examination --- Examples

See how you can do a much better job than Johnnie Cochran and other lawyers with sterling reputations. See also how to use the Three Rules of Direct-Examination with expert witnesses so the jury will know the answers before the expert witness responds. 

17.  Direct-Examination: An Annotated Demonstration

An analysis of the winning tools in action.

18.  A Trial Is Not an Evidence Test

Why you should never object in front of the jury to the admission of evidence.

19.  The Three Rules of Cross-Examination

Follow these three rules to argue your case to the jury through the witness. Learn how to impeach with killer-effectiveness. Also, an analysis of the tools of effective cross-examination in action.

20.  More Tips for Cross-Examination

See how to deal with the difficult or equivocating witness, how to expose the bias of your adversary's witnesses, and how to inoculate your witnesses against your adversary's cross-examination. What to do when surprised by an answer (as was the prosecutor in the first trial of investment-banking wizard Frank Quattrone). Also, a look at expert testimony and science.

21.  Godix Equipment Export Corp. v. Caterpillar, Inc.

Excerpts from a federal-court anti-trust trial. See how you can do a much much better job than senior litigators from two major law firms: How they did it and how it should have been done.

22.  Why Irving Younger Was Wrong

Why five of Younger's famous Ten Commandments of Cross-Examination are suicidal to effective, winning trial-advocacy.

23.  Closing Argument

A look at the real purpose of the closing argument and how to do it right. Why Robert Morvillo's closing argument for Martha Stewart was not effective.

24. Death on the Staircase: A Study Guide

A scene-by-scene analysis of what the lawyers and their consultants did in the fascinating murder trial of Michael Peterson, who was accused and convicted of killing his wife.


25. On Trial: Lee Harvey Oswald

In 1986, famed lawyers Vincent Bugliosi and Gerry Spence prosecuted and defended, respectively, Lee Harvey Oswald in connection with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The trial was before the Honorable Lucius D. Bunton, III, since deceased, who was then on the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas. The lawyers called as witnesses many of the persons who would have been witnesses in Oswald's trial if he had not been killed by Jack Ruby. ITV Studios Ltd., the British television production company that produced the trial has graciously given me the transcript of the "trial" as it was released in the two-disc DVD set, On Trial: Lee Harvey Oswald, and I have annotated it with my views on the lawyers' techniques. This chapter gives us an intriguing chance to see what they did that works, what they did that could have worked better, and what they did that I believe they should not have done.


26.  Voir Dire 

What voir dire can and cannot do for you.

27.  The Bench Trial

28.  Ignore the Drumbeat of Bad Advice

29.  It's Time to Win! (Why OK is Bad)

What it takes to be a winning trial lawyer, and why you can be one --- every time!



Appendix A

Federal Rules of Evidence

A complete copy of the Federal Rules of Evidence for easy reference.

Appendix B

Federal Rules of Evidence

(A Functional Analysis Outline)

An analysis of the Federal Rules of Evidence by their purpose and function, so you can see how they relate with one another.

Appendix C

Evidence and Advocacy--Using the Rules of Evidence to Win

How to use the Federal Rules of Evidence to help you win.



Author Detail

Ralph Adam Fine has been a judge on the Wisconsin Court of Appeals since 1988. He served as a trial judge from 1979 to 1988, and presided over more than 350 jury trials. He was the presiding judge in the PBS Frontline production Inside the Jury Room, which was the first time jury deliberations in a criminal trial were filmed and broadcast. Judge Fine has taught trial-advocacy, evidence, and appellate-advocacy at over 150 continuing legal education programs around the country, at in-house trial-advocacy programs to law-firm litigation departments, and as Professorial Lecturer in Law at the George Washington University National Law Center in Washington, D.C. In January of 1995, the University of Virginia School of Law honored Judge Fine with the Honorable William J. Brennan, Jr., Award for his contributions to the teaching of trial advocacy.

Judge Ralph Adam Fine is the author of The How-To-Win Trial Manual - 5th Edition , The How-To-Win Appeal Manual - 2nd Edition as well as the annually supplemented Fine's Wisconsin Evidence, which Judge Jack B. Weinstein, original co-author of Weinstein's Federal Evidence, called "probably the best single-volume state treatise on the subject that I have seen." Judge Fine is also a senior contributing editor and reporter for the four-volume treatise Evidence in America (Lexis); and a contributing editor of the ABA publication Emerging Problems Under The Federal Rules of Evidence (Lexis 3d ed.). He has analyzed legal issues on 60 Minutes, Nightline, and PBS's The NewsHour.


"A succinct, masterful approach to trying cases."
- Gregory P. Joseph, Partner, Gregory P. Joseph Law Offices LLC, New York,and Former Chair of the Litigation Section of the American Bar Association (ABA).

"Judge Ralph Adam Fine The How-To-Win Trial Manual is filled with fresh ideas. By giving lawyers a new point of view, Judge Fine's book will make them better advocates."
- Professor James W. McElhaney, Baker and Hostetler Distinguished Scholar in Trial Practice and Joseph C. Hostetler Professor Emeritus of Trial Practice and Advocacy at Case Western Reserve University School of Law in Cleveland and the Joseph C. Hutcheson Dis­tinguished Lecturer in Trial Advocacy at South Texas College of Law in Houston. Columnist for Litigation, the journal of the ABA Section of Litigation, and the ABA Journal.

 " I have read many trial books in my 25 years of trial practice. Judge Fine's Manual contains the most practical and reliable approach to a winning trial strategy I have seen. "
- Timothy H. Herman, Senior Partner, Herman, Howrey & Breen, Austin TX, Past Chairman,Public Law Section, State Bar of Texas; Former Vice Chairman, American Bar Association, Litigation Section of Natural Resources and Environmental Law

"I just received a copy of The How to Win Trial Manual, by Judge Ralph Fine. This is not a good book but it is an absolutely fabulous book. It is filled with confirmation of many of my own thoughts and also filled with excellent new insights. I want my litigation students to each have a copy."
- Bernard L. Segal, Professor of Law and Director of the Litigation Program, Golden Gate University School of Law; Professor Segal is a distinguished trial lawyer who enjoys national renown as a master teacher in trial advocacy programs for lawyers and has taught at National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA) programs.  He served as counsel for Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald in the famous Green Beret murder case that was the subject of the book and movie Fatal Vision and is the author of The Defense Manual for Consensual Crimes and co-author of The National Defense Manual in Criminal Cases.

"I restudy your book before every trial so that I can get the full benefit thereof. It also helps me spot the obvious mistakes which the other side makes, and have continued my practice of giving copies of your book to new associates and sending copies of your book to in-house counsel."
- Willem G. Schuurman, Senior Partner, Intellectual Property/Technical Litigation Group, Vinson & Elkins, Austin, TX.

"I've told my associates that its the best trial book I've seen in my 48 plus years of trial practice."
- Tom Riley, one of the country's pre-eminent trial lawyers, of the Tom Riley Law Firm in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, IA

"This is a remarkable book that will help any lawyer become a better litigator.  Lawyers have a tendency to over-complicate things and lose juries in forests of detail.  Judge Fine's approach is a welcome reminder that litigation need not (and should not) be so complex.  It further re-focuses lawyers on what we are supposed to be doing -- arguing our client's case -- and proceeds to show how do so effectively, step by step.  I only wish someone had given me this book 15 years ago."
- David Maxfield, Partner, Trotter & Maxfield, Columbia, SC.; Chair of the South Carolina Bar's Consumer Law Section

"The best little book that I've ever seen . . . so practical . . . I carry that book with me every place."
- James P. Linn, Linn & Neville, Oklahoma City, OK.

"I have just bought my third copy of your trial manual. I gave the other two to friends who needed help. I am now re-reading it for the tenth time. It may be the most useful law book I have ever had. It also just happens that I have a sticky appeal in which I am the respondent. Your appeal book provides the clearest guide to appellate writing I have ever seen."
- Paul Fred Cohen, Esq. Los Angeles, CA

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