Dealing With the Defense Cherry-Picking Records
Find the jury instruction in your venue that talks about the need to look at all of the evidence, not just handpicked pieces taken out of context. For example, we have this one in Florida:
401.3 GREATER WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE
“Greater weight of the evidence” means the more persuasive and convincing force and effect of the entire evidence in the case.
Tell the jury during voir dire:
That instructions means you are to base your decision on all of the evidence, not hand-picked snippets taken out of context by one side. Why? Because that is the only way to get a clear and accurate picture of what is really going on. The law recognizes that evidence shown in a vacuum or in a cut and paste way can be very misleading. It warns against deciding cases based on deceptive or selective presentations of evidence.
I want to ask about your thoughts on that law, but first let me give you an example of how wrong conclusions can be reached when only part of the picture is shown.
If someone wanted to make it look like they were out in the countryside, when they were really standing in the center of one of the biggest cities in the world, they could use a zoom lens to take an extreme closeup picture of ducks and turtles on the rowboat pond in Central Park, NYC. It would look like a wilderness picture, when nothing could be further from the truth.
If the person was just trying to show ducks and turtles, then a tightly cropped picture would be fine. But if the purpose was to get the lay of the land, then zooming in would be misleading. To accurately show where they’re standing, the person needs to use a wide-angle lens to capture the whole picture, including those telling skyscrapers towering in the background.
We all know pictures can be cropped to cut out unwanted things. When you’re in a court of law, the truth is not supposed to be an unwanted thing. It should never be cropped out of view.
Your job is to keep your eyes on the big picture and make sure no one gets away with taking snippets out of context. How do you feel about that?
Then, in opening you can add something like this:
We can’t control the lens setting defense chooses to use when they show you snapshots of the medical records, but we can and will provide you with the full view, as required by law, so you get an accurate picture of what is really going on. That way you will be able to see where the truth stands and that we are standing with it.