What Is The “White Trash” Defense And How You Need To Do To Beat It.

The “white trash” defense is common in personal injury litigation. This defense is real simple: the defense lawyers will do extensive research to find the “dirty laundry” of the plaintiff, i.e., bad things about the plaintiff’s background, such as criminal convictions, drug use, arrests, petty thief, you name it. Once the defense has the “dirty laundry” on your client, the only question is how they will use it.

Most defense lawyers will hold back this information and wait to spring it on the plaintiff at trial, when your client is unsuspecting. This can be very powerful for a defense lawyer. Other defense lawyers try to emasculate the plaintiff with their “dirty laundry” at the deposition. Either way, if your client is not prepared to confront the demons in their past, you will have to crawl under counsel table at the trial when the “dirty laundry” gets aired in front of the jury.

So, what do you do? To start, DO NOT BELIEVE YOUR CLIENT. When your client tells you that he/she has no criminal convictions, don’t believe them! Do you own independent search for criminal convictions. For $48, you can request a criminal history from the Office of Court Administration and the turn-around time is 24-48 hours. That’s pretty good value for the buck! If you have even the slightest suspicion that your client has a criminal background, send an e-mail request to the Office of Court Administration for your client’s criminal history. It may be the best $48 you ever spend.

Now that you discovered that your client has an unsurly past, what do you do next? CONFRONT IT! Instead of hoping the defense lawyer is too lazy or stupid to find out about your client’s background, you take the problem by the horns by doing the following: #1: Tell your client to be honest about their sordid past and remind them if they lie, they lose. #2: Tell the jury about your client’s problematic background as early as jury selection. For example, you might tell the jury, “My client was convicted of burglary when he was young and stupid, but he did his time and he got his life straightened out. Further, the crime has no relevance to this lawsuit at all. Will you hold it against my client that he did a stupid thing twenty years ago?” The jury will appreciate your honesty and most will agree that everyone makes mistakes that they are not proud of.

Lawsuits can turn in an instant based upon clever defense lawyers airing the “dirty laundry” of plaintiffs’ for the first time at trial. Be ready for the “white trash” defense by learning as much as possible about your clients’ backgrounds, i.e., check their Facebook page for lewd photographs, and when you find out about your clients’ questionable background, confront it head-on both at deposition (if necessary) and at trial. Don’t let defense lawyers use petty, meaningless nonsense to demean your client.