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Yelling Is Not a Good Way to Win a Trial

By William Vogeler, Esq. | Last updated on

George Lombardi, a skilled trial attorney, almost called the witness a liar in a high-profile case against Monsanto.

He was questioning the plaintiff's expert, a professor of medical oncology and cancer epidemiology, about the link between a weedkiller and cancer. The plaintiff alleges Monsanto's Roundup caused deadly lymphoma.

But the expert started yelling when the lawyer repeatedly implied he was lying. Win or lose, it was definitely not a good look.

No Yelling in Court

Yelling and name-calling won't win friends and influence people, especially judges and jurors. Scientists say the first thing to do when in an argument is to stop yelling.

You can blame the limbic system and amygdala of the brain, which inform the survival instinct. It's how we assert dominance and handle perceived threats.

"This is why people yell in fistfights or at the strange dog in the yard that's freaking them out," Wanda Thibodeaux wrote for Inc.

But it's not so good in court. Basically, it tells everyone you've lost control.

No Name-Calling, Counsel

In the Monsanto case, the witness felt like the lawyer started it. Lombardi bludgeoned him by showing discrepancies in his prior testimony.

"Did you get asked that question under oath and give a different answer?" the Winston & Strawn attorney asked again and again.

"Stop misquoting me!" Alfred Neugut yelled.

Lombardi wanted to discredit the professor, so it was a good strategy to call him out. But it's not so good to call a witness a liar -- especially by yelling it.

Plus, you don't know whether the jury will believe the witness or the lawyer until the case is over.

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