• April 28, 2022

New Book Offers Information on Personal Injury Trials and Preparation

In Approaching the Bank: Stories from a Personal Injury Lawyer, attorney Jan Weinberg shares some of her most compelling cases from a career spanning decades. Beginning with stories of his time at Harvard Law School, years marked by anxiety and skipping classes, to his first assignment to a client while still a law student, then as a partner in a law firm, and finally practicing on your own in Hawaii. Weinberg offers a revealing portrait of not only the clients, judges and opponents she faced in the courtroom, but also a look at how being a lawyer sometimes affected his personal life.

Anyone who loves a good courtroom drama will find much to enjoy in this book. There are fascinating details about how Weinberg investigates his cases and finds precedents for his arguments; there are female clients more interested in flirting with him than standing up for them, and there are some heartbreaking stories of female clients who desperately needed someone to stand up and fight for their rights, and Weinberg was able to do it for them.

While I can’t detail all the stories here, I will briefly mention a few of my favorites. One case that Weinberg did not participate in, but was a key case that he learned about in law school, was the hairy hand case; in this case, a doctor did a skin graft by taking skin from a patient’s chest and using it for his hand: when chest hair grew on the patient’s hand, the patient was not happy. This case is one that every good law student apparently knows about.

In Weinberg’s first case, assigned to him while he was still a law student through Harvard Legal Aid, he handled a divorce. He quickly discovered how much she had left to learn despite his law school training. Her client was getting a first-time divorce, but her friend, who accompanied her to her appointment with Weinberg, had been divorced three times and apparently knew more about court protocol when it came to divorce cases than he did, so that he learned something. or two of her.

In another case, Weinberg was assigned to do research on a pro bono case in which a partner was representing a convicted bank robber on appeal. The conviction was based on the identification of the client’s left elbow hanging out the window of the car in which he fled.

Throughout his career, Weinberg has proven to be very good at investigating his cases and preparing for trial, as well as questioning and cross-examining witnesses. As Weinberg states at one point: “So if a lawyer isn’t willing to spend time outside of work hours and on weekends thinking about cases while walking, gardening, exercising, and even performing basic bodily functions, to to investigate, to question, and to worry about, then an area of ​​the law other than a personal injury practice would almost certainly be a better fit.” Weinberg’s stories and results attest to the fact that, like Perry Mason, he was always trying to figure out his cases and his strategy from every possible angle.

One story that really made me admire Weinberg’s techniques in the courtroom was when he was cross-examining a doctor who was an expert witness in his trial on his side. Feigning full disclosure, but really to win the sympathy of the jury, Weinberg asked the doctor if it was true that he was a convicted felon. The man replied, “Yes, I am a convicted felon. But can I please explain? As I told the jury, I am Hungarian. You may remember that in 1956, the Soviet Union sent tanks and troops to take over our country.” I was a young man then, and with other young men we would fill Coca-Cola bottles with gasoline and put rags in them. We would run to the tanks, light the rags and throw the bottles under the tanks. We called ourselves “freedom fighters.” .’ The Soviets called us ‘terrorists’. I was convicted of terrorism and spent two years in a Soviet prison in solitary confinement.” Weinberg goes on to say that the doctor “spoke in a mellifluous tone of voice, with a thick Hungarian accent. His performance was operatic. He was fascinating. He spoke directly to the jury that he seemed to be attracted to him. She had tears in her eyes.” Her eyes were as she finished her answer. The Hungarian dance of love seemed to be succeeding.”

Many other stories in the book will fascinate, surprise and entertain readers. A landmark case from 1996 in which Weinberg was involved concerned a pedestrian who was struck by a driver who may have been using a cell phone. This was long before there were discussions about the dangers of cell phone use while driving. Ironically, twice during the trial, the driver’s cell phone rang, which only made it appear worse to the jury. Other stories demonstrate how handwriting samples are used to determine the personalities of potential jurors and how Weinberg has used mock jury trials to determine the strengths and weaknesses of a case before it goes to trial.

Approaching the Bench will appeal to law students, attorneys, and anyone else involved in the court system or just a fan of courtroom drama. I am sure that after so many years of practicing law, Jan Weinberg has only shared the tip of the iceberg with the stories in this volume. I wouldn’t be surprised if she writes another book one day. I’m sure fans of this volume will welcome it.

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