Bailey Brothers Illustrate the Contradiction Technique

SHOW THE STORY: The Power of Visual Advocacy, Trial Guides (2011) by William and Robert Bailey offers a superb example of the cross-examination contradiction technique. The essence of the technique is to lock the witness into testimony that can be proven false.

SHOW THE STORY explains how trial lawyers can tell the story of the case powerfully with visuals. To illustrate the importance of visual persuasion, the Baileys use an Everett, Washington murder case. In 1917, members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW – a labor movement organization) aboard the ferry Verona sailed into an Everett dock on their way to a demonstration. Sheriff’s deputies and citizens were there to greet them. Shots were exchanged and five IWW members and two deputy Sheriffs were killed.

SHOW THE STORY tells how George Vanderveer, who represented accused murderer Tom Tracy, employed visuals to contradict the witnesses. At the time of the shooting, the bow of the boat was at almost a ninety degree angle to the dock. The only evidence that Tracy had shot the deputy was the eyewitness testimony of witness who claimed they could see him shooting from a port side window.

SHOW THE STORY contains archival photos, diagrams and charts to tell the story that it was impossible for the witnesses to see Tracy shooting from the port window. The book describes what happened at trial:

“When the trial began, one after another prosecution witness got on the stand and identified Tom Tracy as having fired a gun from a window on the port side of the Verona. Sheriff McRae was first up, and Vanderveer eagerly pounced on him when it came time for cross-examination. He staged the scene in the courtroom with a physical demonstration showing that the sheriff’s view was completely cut off. Confidence shaken, backpedaling, Sheriff McRae left the stand with his credibility in ruins.

“Deputy Sheriffs William Bridge and “Honest” John Hogan did no better than their boss. Using a scale model of the Verona, Vanderveer proved that it would have been physically impossible for either deputy to have seen the deputy’s face.”

SHOW THE STORY contains a treasure trove of ideas and illustrations that will enable trial lawyers to visually tell a persuasive story of the case. The book can be obtained at the Trial Guide Publishers website. Learn more about the cross-examination confrontation technique in Cross-Examination Handbook.