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October 11, 2003

Dinosaur Bones

Frank Quattrone’s trial for obstruction of justice continues; see this story from the AP. On Thursday, Quattrone took the witness stand in his own defense. Quattrone’s lawyer, John Keker, asked him about an unrelated investor lawsuit against his former firm, Morgan Stanley. Quattrone had been a witness in that lawsuit. According to the WSJ, Quattrone commented, “I was amazed how the plaintiff’s lawyer would take extraneous documents and twist and turn them to make it sound like something bad.” (Wall Street Journal, Oct. 10, 2003, at C1, C10 cols. 2-3.)

Quattrone's comment reminded me of how, in a former life, I sometimes used to explain trials to clients. Think of a trial lawyer as a paleontologist, working with a pile of dinosaur bones (documents, witness testimony) to convince a jury that the dinosaur looked like this. The paleontologist describes her vision of the dinosaur, and tries to show the jury how the bones fit together in a way that matches her vision. Perhaps the bones don’t fit together perfectly, however. Perhaps some bones are missing. Of course, there’s an opposing paleontologist in the courtroom, twisting and turning the bones in a different way in support of his own vision.

The jurors typically knew little or nothing about dinosaurs before the trial, and of course they don't get to see the dinosaur in real life. They still have to decide what the beast really looked like. Their decision can change -- or end -- lives, reputations, and bank balances.

October 11, 2003 in Communications, Litigation | Permalink

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Comments

Me and my friend Evan were playing in an old barn, and came upon some very suspicious looking bones. We don't know what animal they came from, but there are no birds where we live. Plese send any information you have on terydactols.

Sincerely,
Evan L. and Clifton D.

Posted by: Clifton D. and Evan L. at Jan 19, 2004 10:30:41 AM

Me and my friend Evan were playing in an old barn, and came upon some very suspicious looking bones. We don't know what animal they came from, but there are no birds where we live. Plese send any information you have on terydactols.

Sincerely,
Evan L. and Clifton D.

Posted by: Clifton D. and Evan L. at Jan 19, 2004 10:31:02 AM

Hey,
Thank you so much for making this web site my lil sis and I really had fun learning about dinosaurs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Samantha Hall at Jan 24, 2004 11:42:48 AM

We have a farm and the University took some dinosaur bones off of it. We didn't know what was up till the were trucking them out. We did not sign anything and feel we should share some of the monetary benefit of the bones. They are 100 million years old and I suppose quiet valuable. Would any one care to conult about this matter. Or just post any ideas or similar stories.

Sincerely a concerned citizen

Posted by: Terry Dactyl at Feb 17, 2004 10:29:08 PM

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