TLC Faculty Leader, Ron Estefan with Israel Garcia

“I used the methods I learned at Trial Lawyers College and from Psychodrama training workshops to show the jury at a true, deep emotional level what my client had in his life before the crash and what was taken away from him; how the crash happened; and the cover-up scene after they pulled over and he realized he was run into by an off-duty police officer.” – Israel Garcia, 2010 TLC Graduate

Israel Garcia is a personal injury attorney based in San Antonio, Texas at his firm, the Law Office of Israel Garcia. Israel graduated from the Trial Lawyers College in 2010 and has since attended over eight regionals, grad programs, and other courses offered by the Trial Lawyers College. Israel initially heard about TLC from attending a local Psychodrama workshop in 2010 lead by Psychodramatists, John Nolte, and Kaitlin Larimer, where he met other TLC graduates. “When I was there, I met these lawyers that cared more about their clients than just the job; they actually cared more about the person. So, I realized I wasn’t alone because of how much work I put into certain cases and how much I care for the people I represent. So, when I found them (TLC), I said, ‘Man, this is awesome!'” After attending the Psychodrama workshop, he stayed in touch with one of the attendees, and she encouraged him to apply to the Flagship 3-Week College. Israel was excited to apply but knew that leaving for three weeks seemed like an impossible amount of time away from his job and clients and was something that he just couldn’t afford to do. When he got accepted into the July Class of 2010, he realized how important it was for him to ‘take the risk’ and that he could not afford to miss the opportunity to become a better person and a better lawyer. “It’s hard to get away for three weeks, but it was the best and most important decision I have ever made in my professional and personal life.”

Following eight years of continued TLC and psychodrama training, learning the ins and outs of jury selection, opening statement, direct-exam, cross-exam, and closing, in addition to working with his TLC Local Working Group, Israel took a case he knew was worth the fight. “My staff and I worked tirelessly through the weekends leading up to trial. I also worked with local TLC grads who dropped everything at the last minute to help me do witness prep, provide input for voir dire, and discover the stories that would connect with the jury using the methods we learn through TLC.”

Israel spent an entire day conducting voir dire and connected with the jurors on a deep level. He shared personal experiences with the jurors to help them feel comfortable in answering his questions. “Because I’ve had a lot of TLC and Psychodrama training, I was able to get in touch with the emotional feelings in my life to ask questions that mirrored the emotions and feelings in the case. The jurors started to think and feel about the things in their life that are similar to mine and my client.” Israel had to find a way to make twelve strangers see and feel the impact the car accident had on his client and, in the end, care about him and his life.

Israel’s client was on a Harley Fatboy when he made a left turn on a green arrow (near the city limits of Universal City and Converse). An off-duty Converse police officer made a right turn on red. The off-duty officer’s fender hit his client’s right hip and knee area and the peg and saddlebags of his motorcycle. The impact bumped his bike into oncoming traffic but he was able to gain control with no visible damage to the bike or the car. The Universal City Police Department arrived at the scene and was told by the off-duty Converse Police Officer to leave. The Converse Police Department then wrote a report stating that the off-duty officer made a right turn at the light, but neglected to reference it being red or that Israel’s client had the green arrow; that his view was inadvertently blocked by another car in the left lane next to off-duty officer, and Israel’s client took ‘Faulty Evasive Action’ by trying to speed through the intersection. The police report documented that he suffered an injury: Injury Severity “B” (Non-Incapacitating Injury). At the scene, the client’s wife showed up and insisted that EMS be called. Israel’s client was evaluated by EMS, which noted no injuries, but high blood pressure. EMS also noted that the Universal City Fire Department and Converse Police Department were on the scene. “In rebuttal, I explained that this was objective proof of the cover-up, meaning Universal City was the correct responding municipality.”

Allstate defended the case as a minor impact soft tissue injury case. Israel’s client did not have any visible injuries and there was little to no damage to the vehicles involved. There were no complaints of back pain until seven days after the accident. By the time of the jury trial, there was a 1.5-year gap in treatment, the back surgery recommendation was 3.5 years old (and had not been performed), and there was only $33,000.00 in past medical expenses. The jury came back with a verdict over $2.5M (with $1.5M for pain, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life). A jury saw what Israel’s client, a good, hardworking man, had before this car accident and what was taken away from him.

With their verdict, the jury stated, “We hear you; we see what you lost; we care”. It brought Israel and his client to tears. It was one of the most meaningful moments of his life to be trusted by his client to show a jury the story of his life, including the deepest most emotional parts, and for a jury to care and to help with their verdict.

“I remember when I first came to TLC I heard and saw these remarkable lawyers. Some spoke of how ‘soft tissue’ injury cases should be valued at over one million dollars if the lawyer took the time to care and to learn the clients’ story. They began to show us how it could be done, and how ‘It all begins with you’. At first, I didn’t believe it, but then, I saw what they could do, and how they were doing it. I never imagined that I could be that good, but I felt like and maybe hoped it was possible. It has taken me eight years going to many TLC courses and Psychodrama workshops, to all come together with this trial.”

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