The Confused Mind
In a great article on line Dr. Chris Witt tells speakers that "a confused mind always says no." Witt explains that if you want cooperation, that cooperation is built on understanding, and understanding only comes when confusion is absent. Doubtless you have seen this concept at work in residents. When they are confused they tend to be more difficult to re-orient and work with than when they are lucid.
In most of our daily interactions with people most of us strive for clarity. When we say something with a double meaning, we try and catch ourselves and make the correction up front so that people know what we're saying. And when people speak vaguely, we normally try to pin them down and get at the heart of what they're saying. Most of us do this without thinking because the process of conversation encourages us to understand one another.
The desire to be understood is so universal it must seem odd to think that there is at least one profession in the world where the goal of speakers and presenters is to create and expand on confusion. But, indeed, in the world of criminal defense attorneys, that is exactly what they do. While a prosecutor or plaintiff tries to make things clear and obvious, the job of the criminal defense attorney is to throw as much mud on the lens as is possible.
The Conrad Murray trial is a good example of this phenomenon. Even defense witnesses have testified that Murray breached the standard of care. Every person with any level of medical or nursing expertise understood how dangerous Propofol was, and what it could do to Michael Jackson. That's why they tried to keep the drug away from him.
The prosecution's case really boiled down to a simple set of logical statements:
- Murray provided propofol;
- Murray left the patient alone;
- The patient died from acute propofol intoxication;
- Therefore: Murray is responsible.
In the prosecution's case whether Jackson was addicted to Meperidine or some other drug was not relevant. What was relevant was that propofol was given, Murray tried to hide the propofol, He was out of the room for a long period of time, and Jackson died. By the time the case had made it past the fifth day everyone understood the key issues in the prosecution case.
The defense case, however, has been about one thing: causation. The defense wants to muddy the waters by making it appear Jackson gave himself the fatal dose of propofol. They want to make Jackson out to be an addict. The purpose of this is to make the jury think that Jackson is more at fault than Dr. Murray. But Jackson was not a doctor, and was not acutely aware of the risks. Still, the defense called a witness whose sole job was to throw up reasonable sounding science just for the purpose of confusion.
Why? Because the confused mind always says no. If the jury is confused about the cause of death they are likely to acquit Murray. Thus all the effort in this case has gone not to attacking the standard of care and saying it is something different, but rather, to creating the illusion that Jackson could have overdosed himself.
Only time will tell if this has been a workable strategy.