Nothing but the truth: why trial lawyers don't, can't, and shouldn't have to tell the whole truth

Nothing but the truth: why trial lawyers don’t, can’t, and shouldn’t have to tell the whole truth

Nothing but the truth: why trial lawyers don’t, can’t, and shouldn’t have to tell the whole truth

Law of the United Kingdom and Ireland > KD10

Edition Details

  • Creator or Attribution (Responsibility): Steven Lubet
  • Biografical Information: Steven Lubet is Professor of Law at Northwestern University.
  • Language: English
  • Publication Information: New York : New York University Press, ©2001
  • Type: Book
  • Series title: Critical America.
  • Permalink: (Stable identifier)

Short Description

XII, 219 pages ; 24 cm.

Purpose and Intended Audience

Useful for students learning an area of law, Nothing but the truth: why trial lawyers don’t, can’t, and shouldn’t have to tell the whole truth is also useful for lawyers seeking to apply the law to issues arising in practice.

Research References

  • Providing references to further research sources: Search

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Bibliographic information

  • Responsable Person: Steven Lubet.
  • Publication Date: 2001
  • Number of Editions: 8 editions
  • First edition Date: 2001
  • Last edition Date: 2002
  • Languages: British English
  • Library of Congress Code: KD10
  • ISBN: 0814751733 9780814751732 0814751741 9780814751749
  • OCLC: 45208116

Publisher Description:

“A readable and enjoyable book of interest to the lay public, litigators and aficionados of trials alike…well worth reading.”
– CBA Record
out”Delightful and insightful…He knows how to tell a story, and he knows that facts depend on perceptions.”
– ABA Journal
“Lubet’s ability to downplay advocacy techniques while emphasizing the rich context of facts, story, and personalities is superb”
“A delightful and insightful book [that] entertains as it instructs.”
-ABA Journal
“This excellent set of essays, both scholarly and imaginative, offers a rare bridge between the parallel universes of legal scholarship and courtroom practice. There is no better guide to the enterprise of storytelling in the law than Steve Lubet.”-Marianne Wesson, Professor of Law, University of Chicago
Lubet’s Nothing But The Truth presents a novel and engaging analysis of the role of storytelling in trial advocacy. The best lawyers are storytellers, he explains, who take the raw and disjointed observations of witnesses and transform them into coherent and persuasive narratives.
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 andnot at all coincidentallyfor providing the best defense for the attorney’s client. Storytelling accomplishes three important purposes at trial. It helps to establish a “theory of the case,” which is a plausible and reasonable explanation of the underlying events, presented in the light most favorable to the attorney’s client. Storytelling also develops the “trial theme,” which is the lawyer’s way of adding moral force to the desired outcome. Most importantly, storytelling provides a coherent “story frame,” which organizes all of the events, transactions, and other surrounding facts into an easily understandable narrative context.
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.”

Main 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.

Summary Note

A novel and engaging analysis of the role of storytelling in trial advocacy

Structured Subjects (Headings):


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