Keith Mitnik has a job many trial attorneys would envy. As Senior Trial Counsel for the nation’s largest personal injury firm (Morgan & Morgan), Mitnik gets to try cases that other lawyers work up. Mitnik tries 1-3 cases per month.
Don’t Eat the Bruises is Mitnik’s perspective on what works from the plaintiff’s side of the courtroom. The book is not a comprehensive trial practice book like McElhaney’s Trial Notebook. It’s also not a book that offers a system, like Reptile. Instead, the book suggests approaches to incorporate into the practitioner’s existing trial system. While the book would be helpful for beginners, lawyers probably need to already have trial experience to fully grasp the reasoning behind all of Mitnik’s techniques.
The first third of the book covers voir dire. Mitnik’s focus is on how to identify and strike biased jurors in the age of tort reformed juries. His techniques are both timely and practical. Plaintiff attorneys who use them will have an easier time identifying defense-biased panel members.
Mitnik devotes other sections to opening, the evidence phase (direct and cross), closing and dealing with the burden of proof. The section on closing arguments suggests a system to help prepare for closing during the trial so that it’s easier to formulate your argument at the conclusion of trial. This is helpful because lawyers are exhausted at the end of long trials. I’ve been underwhelmed by my own closings and am going to try Mitnik’s approach in my next jury trial.
This is a good book that belongs on the plaintiff lawyer’s bookshelf next to Rules of the Road and Damages.