I have heard it said that trials are a search for the truth. Unfortunately, that could not be further from the actual truth. What I mean is that it is the perception of truth that the jury comes to accept that counts. The ultimate, or God’s truth, takes a backseat to advocacy. For example, a more persuasive witness that provides tremendous detail in their testimony will normally be believed by a jury over someone who appears to be uncertain and unconvincing. That does not mean that the jury will search out the real truth and come to the right decision.
I remember reading in the newspaper a few years back about a woman who reported being attacked in a park in New York. She gave a detailed description of her attacker and what he was wearing. She described his sweatshirt with a particular marking on it and the fact that it was torn by the pocket. She went on to tell the police every aspect of the man’s voice, mannerisms and appearance. Tremendous detail. The police, with this information, believe that they would “find their man.” If they did and the woman positively identified this man as the person who tried to rape her, he would have been convicted and sentenced to prison. Unfortunately, she made the whole thing up. Everything she said was a lie. The truth is, she had a motive to make up the story and to get her former boyfriend to feel sorry for her and take her back.
I have become a big fan of surveillance videos and cell phone recorders. They capture the truth. The real truth. It is near impossible to get the camera lens to lie. There is no human element. There is no motive. Sometimes evidence like that works for my client and sometimes against. But either way, “the truth” is right there to see.