Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Irving Younger -- Still Teaching

Irving Younger was a giant of trial advocacy -- professor (NYU, Cornell, Minnesota), practitioner, judge (City of New York, 1969-74). He was a masterful teacher and was famous for his lectures on evidence, discovery, and other topics.

Even though Younger died in 1988, he is still teaching, via recordings. See (and hear!) Trial Evidence Series (14 videotapes), KF8935 .Y68 1982 at Reference Area; The Ten Commandments for Cross-Examination (DVD), KF8920 T46 2000 at Reference Area.

Now the ABA Section of Litigation has published a book collecting a number of his speeches: The Irving Younger Collection: Wisdom & Wit from the Master of Trial Advocacy (Stephen D. Easton ed., 2010), KF213.Y68 E17 2010 at Classified Stacks. You can read his observations and tips on discovery, expert witnesses, scientific evidence, hearsay, jury selection, and cross-examination. You can also read his speeches on historic cases: Ulysses, Alger Hiss, and Erie.

The tone is casual, conveying messages through war stories, quips, and examples. Here's a passage I flipped to:

Lewis on cross-examination: "When this man jumped up on the running board, was he disguised in any way?"


"What was he wearing?"

"What I've told you -- khaki pants and a T-shirt."

"By a T-shirt, do you mean man's underwear, cut pretty short at the arms?"


"Did you get a good look at those arms?"

"I sure did. One of those arms was holding a gun to my head."

"Was there anything unusual about that man's arms?"


And at that point, Lewis turned to DeSisto and said,"DeSisto, stand up. Take off your jacket." He took it off. "Roll up your sleeves." He rolled up his sleeves and there was an audible gasp in the courtroom because from wrist to shoulder, both arms were tattooed like the tattooed man in the circus. The government stipulated that DeSisto had been tattooed in that fashion at the age of 20 some odd; he was now well into his forties. And Lews sat down. That's it. What more can you do on cross-examination? You have raised a serious question not as to whether there was a hijacking, not as to whether somebody didn't jump up on the running board, but as to whether Wimpy has identified the man who did it correctly.
p. 258.

If you want to be a trial lawyer or if, like me, you're just interested in trials, The Irving Younger Collection is worth checking out.