Trial attorneys can learn techniques that fiction writers have been using successfully for centuries and endow a single object to “rule them all.” In fact, there is a growing field of legal scholarship, known as Applied Legal Storytelling, which involves applying story telling concepts to legal concepts, and some evidence suggests that juries are responsive to narrative framework. Thus trial attorneys can use the literary concept of endowed objects to identify a key piece of physical evidence that weaves a thread of narrative continuity through the case and resonates in the mind of the judge or juror. ...
Endowed objects have been persuasive symbols in famous trials as well although the attorneys trying the case may not have realized they were creating endowed objects.16 In well-known trial narratives, endowed objects include the blue dress in the Bill Clinton impeachment hearings, the Lindbergh ladder, and the glove in the O.J. Simpson murder trial.
These endowed objects will naturally weave their way into a trial narrative. By developing awareness of them, lawyers can “edit” their trial narrative to invoke the persuasive power of these objects.In so doing, lawyers must link the evidence to the theory of the case and ensure that the object is relevant. Further, attorneys must also consider how the same evidence can be turned against them. For example, if the prosecution in the O.J. Simpson case had taken notes from Othello, they might have seen how the handkerchief was turned against its proponent, Iago. Instead, the leather glove in the O.J.Simpson case was similarly turned against the prosecution.
This article will present the literary concept of endowed objects,provide examples of endowed objects in literature, provide examples of endowed objects in trials, and then discuss how attorneys can identify and use evidence to create an endowed object. Part II of this article explains why endowed objects are useful at trial. Part III defines endowed objects, explains the similarities and differences between endowed objects and other symbols, and illustrates the use of both in fiction and at trial. Part IV describes the process of endowing an object in both fiction narratives and legal narratives. Part V discusses how endowed objects can develop a theme in fiction and theory of the case at trial. Part VI discusses how endowed objects can create a structural through-line in story structure in fiction and litigation. Part VII discusses how endowed objects can develop character in both fiction and litigation. Part VIII gives examples of endowed objects turned against their proponent in fiction and at trial. And finally, Part IX discusses the ethical issues surrounding endowed objects in litigation
Cathren Koehlert-Page, Like a Glass Slipper on a Stepsister: How the One Ring Rules Them All at Trial, 91 Neb. L. Rev. (2013).