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Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie, Inc.

Primacy and its importance to winning at trial.

The importance of primacy at trial.

There is a process called primacy.  The primacy principle holds that if you are able to show someone that you have a good and meritorious position, that person will want to champion your cause in later discussion.  Movie executives and screenplay writers know this concept well.  You are early in a movie, introduced to the character that they want you to love, feel sorry for, identify with or support.

Movies are a great source of education on the theory of Primacy.  Consider the movie Titanic.  The hero is introduced early in the film, as is the damsel in distress.  Before the movie really begins, you get a sense of turmoil in Rose and then despair, until she meets Jack.  Your emotions then follow and support their quest, despite some things they do that would be considered unacceptable in the abstract. Think about it for a minute.  Early in the movie we do not know how bad the fiancé is, yet we are okay with Rose having sex with a stranger in the car down in the bilge of the ship.  We accept that she is allowed to pose for Jack nude, even though she is engaged, and embarrasses her fiancé. 

Without the concept of primacy, we would normally hate or disrespect Rose. If you saw Rose being promiscuous and posing nude before the story of her distress and predicament, you would not have thought of Rose so highly, and no doubt, you would have disliked the character and movie, even if you learned later that Rose was trapped.

But the story was so well told, that we began to realize that she was in need of a change and trapped by her mother into a life she did not choose.  This is a great story, and underscores the point of primacy.    The element of primacy dictates that a jury hear your case and then wants to champion your client’s cause from that point forward.

For fun, consider the movie Avatar, a recent phenomenon of excellent story telling.  At first, you are actually identifying with the humans, and their quest for fairness and order in a foreign world.  Never at the beginning of the movie, are we introduced to the Avatar locals.  In a shocking development, we are then lead through the story of how wonderful their outlook and life is.  We are okay with this if we are talking of a foreign world that we have no way to judge, but ignoring primacy can only be done when the person has no point of reference upon which to judge early and quickly.  Avatar surprises us, and changes us during the movie.  This is risky at trial when you are not the only teller of evidence. 

Primacy must be observed to prevail in a trial.

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