I am shortly scheduled to try a case for a woman who sustained a mild traumatic brain injury. In preparing, the issue arose as to whether she should be present in the courtroom during the entire trial, or, only when she is called to testify. My practice, as a general rule, is to only have the client in the courtroom when he or she is called to testify.

When people are called as jurors, they come to court with preconceived ideas and expectations. When jurors hear that they are going to be called upon to decide a case for an individual who has suffered a traumatic brain injury, their perception is that the plaintiff suffers with severe mental and motor deficits. The jurors expect to see a person who has difficulty speaking and walking. They are certainly not prepared to see a person with a mild traumatic brain injury that looks normal and in most situations, while on the witness stand, sounds normal. When a person with acquired traumatic brain injury sits in the courtroom day after day, the jury gets used to seeing a person who appears and acts very normal. My preference is to only have the plaintiff in the courtroom to testify.

Remember that like all the rules, there are exceptions and trials are dynamic, not static events, requiring the attorney to adapt to what is taking place during the trial.