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Emile Zola Berman, famous trial lawyer who defended Marine Sergeant Matthew McKeon, last night urged law students to take up trial practice as a career in order to make a "really lasting contribution" to justice.
Speaking in the Ames Court Room at the Law School, Berman noted that Law students today become "great craftsmen," but do not learn proper trial techniques. He said that a trial lawyer must "learn to speak with an apparent sincerity," and must make sure that "his face does not mirror the disastrous blows" being struck on his case.
Berman said that the lawyer must become an expert in every field that has a bearing on his case, and noted that in the McKeon case, he had to study hydrography to defend his position that panic caused the death of the six recruits rather than any sudden dropoff or deep place in the boondocks at Parris Island.
The successful cross-examiner, he said, "must have an understanding of applied psychology" and an accurate memory in order to break down the testimony of witnesses, as well as "the ability to instantly make decisions."
Urges Humanities Study
Asked how he would have handled the McKeon case if he had been attorney for the prosecution, and had uncovered the same facts about the case as he had collected for the defense, Berman replied that "facts lend themselves to different inferences." He said that his handling of the case was somewhat different than if it had been tried in a non-military court, because in the court-martial, the jury is a "tribunal of experts."
He urged that prospective trial lawyers develop understanding and knowledge of the humanities and concentrate on techniques of fact-finding. He said that training in law is only part of the training of a trial lawyer.
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