Hi everyone. Welcome to “Emotion in the Courtroom.” I’m Mike DeBlis, host of “Emotion in the Courtroom.” This is a podcast designed to help trial lawyers bring “the life back to the law” by making a positive connection with jurors so that they will be open to our arguments.
Whenever we embark on something new, we are so fragile. Our vision can be shattered by just one careless statement.
If it wasn’t for a very special person, this podcast would never have launched. Before I go any further, I’d like to acknowledge this person.
At a time when I was weak, vulnerable, and questioning myself as to why I would attempt something as foolish as “getting behind the mic and hosting my own podcast,” this person gave me a vision of what I might become if was just real and true to myself. He has been a role-model for me and has been deeply influential in my life ever since.
I was given that gift by John Lee Dumas of Entrepreneur on Fire. And for that, I am eternally grateful.
To help you get to know me better, I’d like to tell you a little bit about myself.
By now, I’m sure you’ve guessed that I’m a lawyer. In fact, I come from a family of lawyers. My father and my sister are lawyers, and I have several uncles who are lawyers.
What you may not know about me are my interests outside of law. I love ice hockey, am passionate about the theater, and love to run marathons. I played competitive travel hockey growing up and even had a short stint playing in Europe after graduating from college.
Even after hanging up my skates, I found it impossible to withdraw from the sport completely. I began coaching youth hockey, became a registered ice hockey official, and started a youth hockey organization.
Recently, I’ve discovered something that has been buried deep inside me for the last 33 years and that has been yearning to break out: the hidden actor.
I’m going to tell you a story about how I found him. It’s rather personal. I’m reminded of the famous quote by Atticus Finch, the lawyer in “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The only way to truly understand a person is to crawl inside his hide.
If I’m going to host a podcast that introduces you to creative, spontaneous, outside-the-box innovations that you might view with a healthy dose of skepticism, I have to be trustworthy.
To be trustworthy, I can’t be clever. I can’t lie. I can’t hide. I have to be open. I have to let you see who I am if I expect you to trust me.
Those who know me best know that I’m the last person in the world who you would expect to “bear his soul.” I’m the product of a very stiff and rigid legal education. As a result, I have become so accustomed to thinking, to the abstract, to the intellectual expression of every experience, that it has become difficult for me to connect with what once made me an attractive person – my feelings.
Who can forget the famous line from the movie, “The Paper Chase?”
In the opening scene Professor Kingsfield, the contracts professor, tells the class, “You teach yourselves the law, but I train your minds. You come here with a skull full of mush; you leave thinking like a lawyer.” As lawyers, we are trained to be objective non-feeling beings who apply facts to the law to reach a result. Time and time again, I was admonished if I dared to recite a fact that was not relevant to the legal issue that was in dispute.
These facts were treated as the leftover screws after assembling a bookshelf – useless. Sadly, these facts represent the emotional struggles endured by the parties – the very same facts that are needed to tell our clients’ stories passionately and persuasively. They are the facts that lie beneath the “bare facts” and that tell the “rest of the story.”
There are times in life when you have to be emotionally vulnerable – when you have to pull open the chest cavity and let others see the pounding heart – the joy, the frustration, the fears. And this is one of them.
My story goes back to 2007 …