Monday, December 30, 2013
Following up on Tonya's recent post re: organizing the statement of the case, I thought I'd share some additional sources and thoughts on using subheaders for breaking up the facts section.
Two of the best sources I've seen on this topic are Ross Guberman's Point Made and Noah Messing's The Art of Advocacy. Guberman says that "[n]early all the top advocates break up their fact sections through headings." Then he uses one of the DOJ's briefs in United States v. (Martha) Stewart to illustrate how it can be done:
- "Get Martha on the Phone"
- "Peter Bacanovic Thinks ImClone is Going to Start Trading Downward"
- Stewart Sells Her ImClone Stock
- "Something is Going on With ImClone and Martha Stewart Wants to Know What"
- Stewart's Conversation With Mariana Pasternak
- The Investigation Begins
- The Tax Loss Selling Cover Story
- January 3, 2002: Faneuil Lies to Investigators
- Bacanovic Changes the Cover Story
- January 7, 2002: Bacanovic Lies to Investigators
- Stewart Alerts Bacanovic's Telephone Message
- February 4, 2002: Stewart Lies to Investigators
- February 13, 2002: Bacanovic Lies in Sworn Testimony
- March 7, 2002: Faneuil Lies to Investigators Again
- April 10, 2002: Stewart Lies to Investigators Again
- Stewart's False Public Statements
- Faneuil Reveals the Truth
- Bacanovic's Defense Case
- Stewart's Defense Case
- The Government's Rebuttal Case
- Judgment of Acquital on Count Nine
- The Verdict
These headings (alone) tell the Government's story. And notice how they aren't neutral; they're argumentative. Nothing wrong with that. Messing, for example, says that "an argumentative heading tells readers exactly what to expect."
Also, notice how all of the verbs are in present tense. Guberman says it's a good idea to "strive for novelistic effect" in the facts section and that using present tense verbs in the headings is "another way to give your headings a novelistic feel."
If you want to see more examples of how subheadings can help in the facts section, take a look at Point Made and The Art of Advocacy. Both books are worth having on your shelf.