“The jurors were all leaning out of the box and the judge was intently watching as I ran across the courtroom pretending to be the dog that grabbed my client’s leg (re-enacting what had happened to him). It was the most influential I have ever felt in a courtroom from re-enacting the actual scene. I can’t wait to do it again.” – David Zagoria, 2018 TLC September Graduate
David Zagoria is a personal injury attorney from Atlanta, Georgia who attended his first TLC regional in 2016. David had been taught in his early years, that the attorneys’ job is to persuade and convince the jury – to basically twist their arms to get them to agree. So, when he attended his first TLC regional on opening statement, it was an eye-opening experience. “I thoroughly enjoyed it. For me, it was the first regional setup that got me into thinking I needed to do more of this.” David then attended his next regional on voir dire in 2017. He knew he was going in the right direction because after attending this regional, he was thirsty for the knowledge so he applied to the 3-Week College in 2018 and was accepted.
Georgia Federal Court
David’s first trial after attending TLC’s 3-Week College was also his first Federal Court case. As simple as dog-bite cases can seem to be, the defendant, in this case, did all the right things after David’s client had been bitten; ran him to the emergency room, paid for the medical bills, bought him dinner, and drove him home. So, David’s biggest hurdle with the jury was to show the betrayal of the defendant in the case. The only way he was able to find the betrayal was learning the fundamentals of the TLC methods while working on his case at the 3-Week, and attending his Local Working Group (LWG) in Atlanta after he graduated. “We re-enacted the dog-bite and came to the conclusion that the defendant was not the hero. What he really did was be an irresponsible dog owner, and yeah, he did those things afterward, but that’s what you’re supposed to do when you mess up and hurt someone badly.” When David was able to reverse roles and experience what his client went through, he came to the realization that what the defendant did was nice, but it didn’t excuse the behavior and responsibility of being a dog owner. “It was such a gift for me to have had this experience with TLC to really open my eyes in this case to the reality that there was still a lot more that this man needed to do to make this right. That’s the argument I made to the jury and they agreed.”
Now that David knew the betrayal in the case, a primary skill when using the TLC Methods, he was able to go through trial with a clear intention for his jury. He first brought this point up in his opening statement. David explained the process of his client getting bitten and all the facts that lead up to trial from depositions and comments made. When he ended his opening statement, he made it clear to the jury that although the defendant was a nice guy and did what he was supposed to do, he only got the football to the 50-yard line, but needed to get it all the way to the endzone to do what was right for his client. What really shifted the jury was how David administered his direct exam. “I’ve never had a direct exam where I’ve had everyone in the courtroom completely focused and hanging on every word as I was re-enacting the scene with my client. I could tell as I was pretending to be the dog and running across the courtroom, they were squirming and wanting to yell ‘Turn Around!, Turn Around!’ because my client couldn’t see or hear the dog coming. At that point, the jury really cared about my client because they realized how vulnerable he was because he had no chance to defend himself.”
After closing arguments, David gave the jury the responsibility to give justice to his client, even though the defendant did what he was supposed to do after the dog-bite. “I told the jury, ‘look, you’ve heard the evidence, you all get to decide.’ There were a few more barriers based on some pre-existing and a-symptomatic conditions as far as pain, but we talked about why he should get an award. I think they were disappointed when opposing counsel came to trial with a 0, so the jury awarded $100,000.”
“The lessons I’ve learned so far is, to be honest, and fair. You cannot ask jurors to give you something if they don’t trust you. So, I’ve really tried to be open and honest with all the witnesses and the jurors. Every relationship is based on trust and even with a jury, if they don’t trust you, it will destroy the relationship. I have explained to friends that TLC is a life lesson and that is really what TLC has done for me… it has underlined the importance of trust in every relationship so that you can get the most out of all the relationships you have.”