Scott Glovsky, award-winning California personal injury lawyer, talks with the country’s best personal injury attorneys about being a trial lawyer.
Scott Glovsky, award-winning California personal injury lawyer, talks with the country’s best personal injury attorneys about being a trial lawyer.
Trial Lawyer Talk Ep. 63: Genie Harrison
This episode of Trial Lawyer Talk was recorded on Juneteenth. Employment attorney Genie Harrison discusses a famous case for a black firefighter that caused racial division in Los Angeles. What started as an incident of racial harassment and discrimination, very quickly grew into a hostile work environment with retaliation. Ultimately, it became a constructive termination case ending a career.
About Genie Harrison
Genie Harrison practices law in Los Angeles, CA. Genie Harrison Law Firm represents victims of wrongful termination, sexual harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and other employee rights violations. Ms. Harrison is the President-Elect of CAALA, the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles. CAALA is the country’s largest local association of plaintiffs’ trial attorneys.
About this Case
Ms. Harrison’s client Tennie was a fire fighter at Fire Station No. 5 in Weschester, CA. Tennie’s captains and coworkers fed him dog food in a racially motivated prank. They knew they would get away with the prank because the fire department did not have a universal process for workplace investigations. After the prank, Tennie didn’t feel safe and went out on leave.
When Tennie returned to work, he faced a potentially life-threatening act of discrimination. Just prior to a “flash over” training exercise, someone tampered with his oxygen tank and mask. Tennie lost trust that he would be safe and taken care of by his fire fighting peers. “Trust is so integral and key to being able to function as a fire fighter. Once that trust was completely and irretrievable broken, Tennie could no longer do the job.” Tennie left the department just shy of his retirement and pension.
Ms. Harrison tells the story of the case. She uncovered systemic violations, harassment, discrimination, and retaliation across Los Angeles fire stations. She explains that “Tennie broke my heart.” This case helped spark necessary changes in the Los Angeles Fire Department. Ms. Harrison now works together with community groups and civil rights organizations to create systemic change. She said, “When there are committed people who remain focused on what’s right, we can make the change happen and it can be different and it can be substantially, measurably better.”
Other Episodes of Trial Lawyer Talk
To listen to other episodes of Trial Lawyer Talk and hear from the best trial lawyers in the country, go here.
Trial Lawyer Talk, Ep. 62: Don Clarkson
In this episode of Trial Lawyer Talk, we are humbled to have Don Clarkson join us to explain "Donisms." Don Clarkson is a phenomenal psychodramatist who pioneered psychodrama training for trial lawyers. Gerry Spence brought Don in when he started the Trial Lawyers College in 1994. The idea that Gerry and others had was that to become a better lawyer, you need to become a better person. You need to pursue your journey inward of self-exploration and figure out who you are. Then, you can use this insight to become your true self and your full self in the courtroom.
Today, Don discusses what many lawyers around the country know as “Donisms.” “Donisms” are pieces of wisdom that Don uses to help educate lawyers to become better people. And to become better husbands, wives, parents, children and lawyers. In this episode, Don explains the meaning behind several “Donisms.”
About Don Clarkson
Don Clarkson, owner of Clarkson & Associates, began training in psychodrama at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D.C. in 1961. He attended the Moreno Institute where he trained with Dr. J. L. and Zerka T. Moreno. He is certified as a Trainer-Educator-Practitioner by the American Board of Examiners in Psychodrama, Sociometry and Group Psychotherapy. He was on the faculty of Howard University. During the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, Don pioneered psychodrama training for trial lawyers through the National College for Criminal Trial Lawyers.
* You cannot tell someone else’s story until you know your own story.
* Listening is like holding another person. (Our greatest tool is our ability to listen.)
* You need to say something for yourself - regardless of whether it is going to do any good.
* Our job in life is to recognize the holes in the ground from our childhood or from our past so that we don't fall into them again.
* If you can’t talk about something, it’s out of control. (If there is something that bothers you in life, that’s really the direction you need to go.)
* The place that seems most dangerous is where safety lies.
* Love is the essential ingredient out of pain. Once you manage to endure the pain and come out of it, you allow yourself to be loved.
* Our goal in life is to understand who we are, to forgive our parents, and to forgive ourselves.
* Without pain there’s no growth.
* People pleasers often don’t get pleased.
* How we leave each other says how we’ve lived together.
Don ends by sharing how to hold someone and how to say goodbye. He explains, “I make it a purpose not to pat (someone’s back). And I make it a purpose also when I see someone to look at them. When I'm getting ready to leave, I say to myself, this may be the last time in life that I ever see you. So I want to take this moment to feel who you are.”
61: Marj Russell
About this episode of Trial Lawyer Talk
In this episode of Trial Lawyer Talk, Marjorie Russell, a wise, thoughtful, and highly strategic trial lawyer consultant, shares a methodology for how to take the weakest aspects of your case, the ones that keep you up at night, the ones that you’re scared of in your voir dire, and turn them into part of a winning trial story. Marjorie discusses aspects of discovering the story, of connecting with the client, of going to those places that seem the most dangerous, and of working through them and integrating them into the heart of a case.
About Marjorie Russell
Marjorie Russell of MARJury Consulting lives in Michigan. She specializes in holistic case development; client, witness, and lawyer preparation; and jury selection. Marjorie has been a law professor for many years. She graduated from Gerry Spence’s first Trial Lawyers College (TLC) class over 25 years ago. Marjorie has been on the faculty of TLC ever since training some of the best lawyers in the country.
About this case
Marjorie discusses a case of a 19-year old man named David who got into a car accident causing two broken wrists and neck and lower back problems. Four years later, he had undergone surgery and his hands were still injured and he was in pain. David was unemployed, living in his parents’ home, and drinking heavily. In depositions, he seemed lazy, greedy, and like he was waiting for a large payout from the accident. David’s lawyer felt the jury would reject him because he could not get David “to talk about himself in a way where he didn’t validate the picture that the defense lawyers wanted to paint.” He called Marjorie to help.
Marjorie tells the story of how she helped turn the situation around for the trial. She says, “I think my best help is connecting with people and helping them feel comfortable fully being themselves, especially about the things that people want to attack them for.” In reality, David was a good person who “had reached a point of hopelessness.” They turned the story around from David as a “bad, irresponsible, horrible person” into a story of David suffering because so much had been taken away from him. In the end, it was a winning trial and “a story of redemption” for David.
Marjorie ends Trial Lawyer Talk with, “That's my reward. When I see the healing and when I see the confidence. When I know that the lawyer has been able to take what we’ve discovered and make magic with it - that the jurors are lighting up with recognition. They know what that's about. They understand that kind of struggle and that he did become a hero in his own life. And that is the bottom line for me. I want to know how has the person were helping become a hero in their own life, and how can we show that story?”
60: Laura O'Sullivan
Laura O’Sullivan is a wonderful criminal defense lawyer who practices in Kansas City, Missouri. She discusses a criminal case for a young man with a tumultuous childhood who was in foster care until the age of 18 and was facing lifelong consequences for allegations of inappropriate behavior.
Laura O’Sullivan is a trial and appellate attorney with over 20 years of legal experience. Currently an Assistant Public Defender in the state of Missouri, she previously was an Associate Clinical Professor at the University of Missouri, Kansas City School of Law, and held a variety of other positions including at the Midwest Innocence Project. Laura’s specialties include trials, post convictions, criminal and family law, teaching students, and training attorneys, managers, investigators and support staff.
During the young man’s trial, several witnesses helped tell the story of his life. The jury’s decision restored Laura’s confidence in the love and openness of people to really listen and to reach a verdict based not just on the incident at hand, but instead on a person’s whole life.
Laura discusses how she doesn’t grow bitter and cynical representing clients who sometimes have done terrible things. She shares that often her clients have had difficult childhoods and are suffering from addiction or mental health issues and are facing a system that has failed. She’s learned from her clients that people have different needs, and sometimes a need is to be heard. Her role is not to control, but instead “to do the best (she) can and to help her clients through what is probably one the most difficult times in their lives.”
Laura then turns to her work on constitutional challenges in Missouri. “Missouri’s public defender system is 49th out of the 50 states in terms of funding. So, we have an underfunded and overworked public defender system. We have more clients than we can handle. What we’ve done in Kansas City is to look at our ethical obligations and the constitutional rights of our clients to have an attorney.” Clients, attorneys and the ACLU sued various state offices. An update can be read here.
Laura finishes with a story about a client who was a representation of strength of heart and strength of mind.
59: Joey Low part 2
Joey Low is an expert at framing the story and getting to the heart of the universal truths of a case. He discusses a civil case for a 76-year-old woman who was in a car accident and suffered broken bones and mild traumatic brain injury. The case was a “red light, green light” and “he said, she said” case meaning there was no proof of what color the stop light was or who was at fault. Unknown to Joey until the trial, before Joey was retained the client had responded to discovery suggesting that the accident was the client’s fault.
Joseph H. Low, http://www.attorney4people.com, has a national reputation for his expertise in trial law. He has conducted trials all over the country in Federal, State and Military Courts. He focuses his attention in representing people who have been bullied by corporations and the government. Areas of his trial work have seen him with victories for his clients including personal injury, medical malpractice, business litigation, civil rights violations and criminal defense.
Joey framed the value of this case by showing the jury who his client was and how she showed up for others. The value wasn’t about her age or how much time she had left on earth, but instead about the life she had led up until the accident. As Joey said, “it was important for the jury to see everything that was there, not just what wasn’t there any longer.”
A legal immigrant to the US, Joey’s client learned English, got educated, became a nurse and earned American citizenship. She had a “special connection serving others who couldn’t serve themselves.” After the accident, she had anxiety, fear, and isolated herself from her family and community. The accident not only changed her, it also changed other’s experience with her.
After showing the jury who his client was before the accident, Joey addressed the absence of proof of the accident by telling an intriguing story and asking the jury to determine, “who’s earned the right to be believed?”
58: Joey Low part 1
Joey Low, one of the best trial lawyers in the country, wins the unwinnable cases. He discusses a capital murder case where he stood up to General James Mattis (who later became the United States Secretary of Defense) and to the United States government. His 23-year-old client, and seven other marines, were accused of killing an Iraqi civilian behind enemy lines. Six of the eight marines had already taken plea deals. Joey traveled to a war zone, into enemy territory riddled with IEDs (improvised explosive devices) that was no longer patrolled by the U.S., to recreate and get a sense of the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings of the events of the case.
Joseph H. Low, attorney4people.com, has a national reputation for his expertise in trial law. He has conducted trials all over the country in Federal, State and Military Courts. He focuses his attention in representing people who have been bullied by corporations and the government. Areas of his trial work have seen him with victories for his clients including personal injury, medical malpractice, business litigation, civil rights violations and criminal defense.
The murder Joey Low’s client was accused of occurred during his third tour in some of the most dangerous battle areas in Iraq. He was not guilty and taking a plea deal meant he would serve several years in prison and be required to testify against those who hadn’t yet taken plea deals. He was not willing to testify against his fellow servicemen.
Trying this case was a huge risk. Joey was informed by renown trial lawyers that it was not safe to be on the case, not safe to travel to Iraq, and the client would be brutalized by others - including the 6 marines who had already taken plea deals and would testify against him. The client also faced a potential lifetime behind bars or even execution.
Joey said as he worked on this case and reenacted the crime in Iraq, “a lot of people suffered and went through a lot of pain to make this right. It is easy to do the right thing, and it is hard to know what the right thing to do is.” “I’m grateful for the experience even though it was terrifying.”
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Scott is a super star. I thoroughly enjoy this podcast! I learn a lot through these interviews.
Meaningful stories, well told
Courtroom dramas are inherently interesting. They are even more so when talented attorneys describe their own stories that unfold as they bring forward what become their most memorable cases. More like this!
Entertaining and insightful. A hidden gem podcast!