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The POWER 30: Gary Hazelton

Minnesota Lawyer//June 22, 2023

Gary Hazelton

Gary Hazelton, Hazelton Law Group

The POWER 30: Gary Hazelton

Minnesota Lawyer//June 22, 2023

Hazelton Law Group

Bemidji lawyer Gary Hazelton believes that trial skills are people skills.

As he has written, “[W]e become better trial lawyers by first becoming more understanding and empathetic human beings. That is followed by figuring out how we truly feel about topics that will routinely arise in our cases. That is followed by understanding how to make a connection with people to achieve an initial level of trust. (These first three topics seem to be ones that many people would like to skip. That is a huge mistake.)

“That is followed by understanding how beliefs are formed and transformed into values and learning methods to encourage jurors to examine those beliefs and values while accepting their beliefs and values as valid for them at this point in time,” he said.

That is followed by learning how to craft and then deliver a story at trial so it will be experienced by the jurors as if they were actually present.

For example, Hazelton won a $2.5 million verdict in Grand Rapids by presenting as much evidence as possible through the client’s girlfriend, whom he correctly determined would be more appealing to the jury.

Another technique is “anchoring” certain points in the courtroom so the jury envisions the accident scene. For a case where a man was injured by falling through a trap door, Hazelton “anchored” an area in the room that stood for the trap door. He then made his closing argument with his back to it. He said the lawyer must “show” the jury, not “tell” them about the case.

Another technique is to take the witness back to the accident mentally and determine how things happened at the time of the incident. For example, after being asked, “You’re in the car, what do you see, what do you hear,” the witness may remember that he saw the other driver looking out his side window.

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