By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm -
The popular image of legal argument is most often a polished and professional presentation, made from a podium in front of a jury or judge. To those of us court watchers who read transcripts, it is clear that the biggest roll-up-your-sleeves-and-argue moments are often at sidebar - those conferences conducted with counsel huddled awkwardly by the bench and speaking either in hushed tones or over the white noise that is supposed to prevent a jury from listening in.
Due to their urgency, their often high stakes, the presumed absence of the jury's attention, and the fact that the judge can rule at any time during these arguments, lawyers at sidebar can sometimes let their decorum slip and limit their persuasive effectiveness in the process. In this post, I'll be providing a few tips on this unique species of argument, sharing some related research, and picking apart one sidebar argument from the on-going Casey Anthony trial.