Robert Higbee trial on June 4th
Both sides gave their summations today. I have to once again reiterate that although I’m a New Jersey attorney, I don’t know anyone in this case and I don’t have any particular prejudice for or against either side. That being said, I think the defense summation was one of the worst I have ever seen and the State’s was one of the best.
I’m sure William Subin is a nice guy and he may be a great attorney. However, I just didn’t get his summation at all. I also understand that every attorney has their own style and it is so easy for me to second guess an attorney when I’m not in the heat of battle. However, I ask anyone to please explain what exactly this summation was about. Subin said the word disregard so many times, I lost count. He said it in the context that the jury should disregard anything he says that contradicts what the court says with regard to the law. Ok great, we got it the first time. You don’t need to keep saying it. In addition, you don’t want to tell the jury that you are probably going to make a mistake about the law. This doesn’t do much to help your credibility.
In addition, the first part of his summation didn’t even address the facts of the case. Instead, he focused on thanking the jury and talking about their duty. The research I have reviewed has told me that jurors don’t like to be thanked and the concepts of primacy and recency are important. Thus, you want to have some of your best stuff in the beginning and the real big punch at the end. I didn’t detect this here.
There was also no real focus here. I could not keep track of where he was going and what he was talking about. I was lost for most of the summation. When I draft a summation, I want to focus the jury and tie everything up. I also want to address all of the evidence and have passion. I saw none of this. I was really disappointed and surprised. I can’t see how anyone can explain to me how any of that summation made any sense but I’d like to hear anyone else’s opinion.
Compare that to the prosecutor’s summation. Did he talk for 20 minutes about how thankful he is for the jury and how they can disregard everything he says? No. The first thing he did was to focus the jury on exactly what is at issue in this case. That is the act and whether that fits the elements of the crime and not forgiveness, sympathy, etc. It was really smart.]
Once he focused them on what their job is, he took them through the facts and the law. If I was teaching prosecutor how to give summation, I would just play this for them and say this is how you do it. It was very methodical and logical which is how I like to do it. In my last trial, several attorneys that watched my summation said I was like a professor when I methodically went through the evidence in the case to tear apart the State’s case.
If I had to take issue with the prosecutor’s summation, I would say that he could have spent a few minutes addressing the character witnesses. Due to commercial breaks, TruTv doesn’t show every second so maybe I missed something, but the prosecutor needed to address his statement and whether or not it was a lie. I would have said, yes, he is normally a truthful person but this is the first time that he ever killed anyone, so you do what you have to do to convince yourself and everyone else that you stopped at the sign. After all, no one will say I didn’t stop at the sign. The prosecutor did address his statement by pointing out that he didn’t indicate anything about being confused or seeing the wrong sign, etc.
The prosecutor did a great job of making Loftus’ expert testimony pointless. He said, how can you turn on a road without a light or stop sign in your direction a few minutes prior and not remember that that just occurred? How also could you not see the stop-warning sign, the stop sign, the changing dividing line, the stop line and the fact that the dividing lines stop where the intersection was. He should have focused on his experience as a State Trooper and one that trains other troopers to say that he off all people should have known about these indications. Thus, this business about not seeing the stop sign is garbage because it was more than just the sign. Good stuff.
If Higbee pulls this off, he has to realize how lucky he is because while I don’t think he should be convicted in a perfect world, I think he probably should be convicted based solely on what the jury heard.