Ever thought about what it feels like to be the person in charge of a trial? The orchestrator, if you will, of the witnesses and of the evidence? The person who should by all appearances have the presentation completely planned and under control? What does it really feel like to be the prosecutor trying a serious case?
I can tell you. In a word, miserable. Not fun. Sick to your stomach. Scary.
The truth might surprise a lot of people. It might even surprise a lot of long-time prosecutors. Yeah, yeah, we know. . . . We've all heard the lectures and the stories about how "exciting" and "challenging" and "exhilarating" it is to be a trial lawyer. Anyone who truly enjoys being in a trial is to be admired. I wish I could feel that way.
Truth is there aren't a lot of other situations in the job market very much like the stress that comes with preparing for and enduring a jury trial. Throw into that conflict the fact that a heck of a lot of prosecutors tend to like to CONTROL their world as much as possible and their "world" is loaded with not
Least in our control are the witnesses, as much as we like to think we can prepare them. . . . Other uncontrollables: the jury we ultimately end up with, because we kid ourselves that we picked them—funny; the Judge whose courtroom we find ourselves attempting to orchestrate our "symphony" in; the defense attorney, whose sole purpose it is to try to derail our carefully laid plans; the scheduling, the timing, the cross-examination of every, single witness. . . . Geez, I'm getting sick just thinking about all of it.
And what about the part over which we really think we have control? Our own performance?? How brilliantly we PLAN to make a point or argue our case or kick some butt. . . .
Sick to your stomach.
Maybe all of our angst and nerves and stress are the reasons why we resort to such lame and even silly attempts to convince ourselves that we are truly in control. It is pretty amusing to know that a lot of us have ourselves convinced that wearing a certain color on the "big" day will bring us luck or that wearing a certain color will ward off evil spirits. Think I'm making this up? WCI's defense lawyer Katherine Scardino recently disclosed she has a fairy wand.
Believing that if we eat the exact same food every single day of trial or placing our trial "tools" on the table in the courtroom the exact same way every day will guarantee a successful resolution are other "tricks of the trade." Following one of those "tricks" led to a friend of mine getting really sick of eating red Jell-O after three weeks in a trial.
The most commonly seen "side effect" of being in trial is losing weight. We even call it a "trial diet." There aren't too many prosecutors out there who are able to eat a real meal while trying to put on a "perfect" presentation of evidence. Heck, most survive on Diet Cokes and don't eat at all! It once got so bad during a trial that the jury asked the bailiff to see if there was something wrong with me because I was starting to look so lousy after about week five.
So now you know. The next time you see a prosecutor looking ever-so-cool in the middle of a trial . . . nothing could be further from the truth.