Dan Abrams, Trial in American Life: Cases That Have Shaped the Nation

Published on11 JUN 2018

Legal analyst Dan Abrams discusses the significance of some of the most high profile the cases he has covered – from the O.J. Simpson murder trial to Bush v. Gore – as well as insights from his latest book, Lincoln’s Last Trial.

On the impact of cameras in the courtroom: “I think there have been cases that had they not been televised, there would have been riots in response, because people got to see why the jury reached a verdict it did… Going back a little bit… the O.J. Simpson trial did a great disservice to cameras in the courtroom… because there was a sense… that the lawyers were playing to the camera. You really don't see that in almost any other case. People forget that the camera is there… I think that it is incredibly instructive… From covering a trial, you learn something about how the system works or doesn't work.”

On what he learned from Abraham Lincoln’s final trial as a practicing attorney: “As a lawyer, this was the end of his career. At this point, he had been a really successful attorney, one of the best known in the West and he had kind of honed his craft. He was known as the guy who could talk to a jury. He wasn’t a big legal statutes guy. He was the person you brought in to try and communicate with the jury. But just as important, he learned what not to ask – meaning there were points where he could have kept going with a witness, and he stopped.”

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