The Harrisburg Trial Advocacy Honor Society
hosted Dan McMurtry, one of the nation’s best trial lawyers, on the afternoon of Thursday, January 28th. McMurty spoke to students and faculty about trial advocacy techniques and related some of his personal experiences in the courtroom.
McMurtry recommended taking the facts and weaving them into a theme. During one trial, the District Attorney kept harping on the theme, “You can’t bring a gun to a fist-fight.” McMurtry defended his client by saying, “Your home is your castle and you should be able to protect your family.” Throughout his argument he referred to the “Your home is your castle” theme.
He also encouraged the students to never call a police officer a liar and to let the jury decide if the officer recounted a situation wrong. In a past case, he said he was representing a man who had gotten into a fight and the other party’s wallet had fallen out during the fight. Recounting the fight, the officer said that the man pulled the wallet from the other man’s pocket, which constituted an aggravated assault. Another police officer testified that there was no chain and he pointed to the wallet on the witness stand. McMurtry refrained from calling the police officer a liar and let the jury decided who recounted the facts correctly and incorrectly. As a result, the jury dismissed the aggravated assault charges.
Lastly, McMurtry strongly encouraged knowing the type of people in the town that will sit on the jury and to never ask a witness a question you don’t know the answer too.
Dan McMurtry practices in Nashville, Tennessee and graduated from Mississippi College Law School.