In the February 2021 edition of Trial magazine, presented by the American Association for Justice (AAJ), Attorneys Robert Spohrer and Roger Dodd of Spohrer Dodd had the great honor of having their article regarding logical fallacies in the courtroom published. The co-authored piece, “Spotting 10 Logical Fallacies,” discusses how to spot any logical fallacies used by your opponent in order to be able to expose them and, therefore, prevent them from hurting your client’s case.
A sample of the logical fallacies that Attorneys Spohrer and Dodd discussed include the Texas sharpshooter or clustering illusion fallacy, whataboutism, and the slippery slope fallacy. The first is when the opposing party cherry-picks data to their advantage. The name of the fallacy likens the perpetrator to a shooter who shoots randomly at the side of a barn and then, as if to show how “accurate” their shot is, paints a bull’s-eye around the spot with the most bullet holes. In other words, the sharpshooter ignores all the other data pertaining to the case and focuses on a single cluster of evidence that supports their narrative. It is key, according to Attorneys Spohrer and Dodd, to expose this fallacy and ensure that all the data is presented to the jury.
Whataboutism is similar to the Texas sharpshooter fallacy, as a person utilizing whataboutism attempts to avoid answering questions regarding one piece of evidence by switching the subject to another fact and focusing on that. Attorneys Spohrer and Dodd emphasize the importance of not letting the subject change distract you from getting an answer concerning the particular piece of evidence that you initially brought up.
Lastly, the slippery slope fallacy is when someone disregards evidence and instead opts to focus on how if the defendant was found guilty, then it would lead to something “catastrophic,” such as an increase in layoffs at a certain company or a slew of other cases being filed on similar grounds. That is to say, perpetrators of this fallacy attempt to convince the jury to let a “small evil” go unanswered for to prevent a “larger evil” from occurring. This would be very unjust of the jury to agree to, especially since negligence is not a minor transgression. Your client should never have to suffer because of the negligent actions of the defense; the defense needs to be held accountable and does not get a free pass for doing harm just because they have a bunch of people on their payroll.
In their Trial magazine article, Attorneys Spohrer and Dodd discuss more logical fallacies and how to fight back against them should they arise in the courtroom. As Trial aims to provide legal professionals with the latest industry news and fresh perspectives and commentary on the practice of civil law, Attorneys Spohrer and Dodd’s dissection of commonly used logical fallacies was more than insightful enough to warrant publication in the highly regarded magazine. To read the full article, click here.
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