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No Matter the Outcome, We Must Act Like Gentlemen

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No Matter the Outcome, We Must Act Like Gentlemen

In 2020, I had the privilege of sitting second chair during two jury trials in the Holmes County Court of Common Pleas. One was a civil jury trial involving a business dispute and the other was a criminal jury trial involving several charges.

Sitting “second chair” during a jury trial essentially means:  

a lawyer who helps the lead attorney in court. The services of the second chair may include examining some of the witnesses, arguing some of the points of law, handling parts of the voir dire, and presenting the opening statement or closing argument. Hence, the second chair offers every level of training, support, and consultation for the trial attorney preparing a case for trial. A second chair can execute any task as long as it is done under the supervision of an attorney on the list.[1]

Once the jury trial is over, the case is handed over to the jurors to review and determine the outcome in accord with Ohio law. It’s during the deliberations that jurors meticulously review the evidence before the court which may include photos, electronic messages, and testimony. During deliberations, which can last hours or even days, it is hard for a trial lawyer not to think that they could have done more, or done something differently.  The parties must wait patiently while the jurors carefully deliberate.

Interestingly, the Holmes County Court of Common Pleas has a special tradition that jurors continue in each case. Once a verdict is reached, the foreman or forewoman rings a bell that echoes throughout the courthouse. This is to notify all the parties who are eagerly awaiting a verdict that one has been reached. Once the bell is rung, the parties return to the courtroom to hear the verdict. Once everyone is seated back in the courtroom, the verdict forms are then passed to the Judge for reading.

I learned something very important during last year’s jury trials that I know I will continue to exemplify throughout my career. Once seated back in the courtroom with our clients and prior to the Judge reading the verdicts, White Law Office, Co. Senior Partner Thomas White leaned over to our clients and stated, “No matter the outcome, we must act like gentlemen.” This advice seemed to put the entire process into perspective and was extremely powerful in the moment.

I believe that this phrase exemplifies the entire nature of the judicial system in that it allows for one to argue their conflict or legal issue in a gentlemanly fashion. It is extremely rewarding to be surrounded by individuals who not only teach invaluable skills but also bring things into focus that you may not realize on your own. It is these same individuals that you will find at White Law Office, Co.

Matthew Kearney

Litigation Partner


[1] https://definitions.uslegal.com/s/second-chair/

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