The frilled-neck lizard of Australia is a brownish-gray lizard. Nothing is special about it – until you scare it.

When threatened, this lizard raises up on its hind legs and fans a bright red frill around its neck, velociraptor style. The display is spectacular enough to frighten a wild dog into a tail-tucked retreat. It has no venom or sharp teeth; it just acts like it does.

I first saw the “frilled lizard technique” in the courtroom while trying a medical malpractice case against a highly reputable attorney (“Famous Lawyer”). Knowing we were up against one of the best, we worked tirelessly to prepare our star expert for what would certainly be a brutal cross-examination.

At trial, our expert killed it. He was incredible. He handled Famous Lawyer beautifully. It took every bit of restraint not to stand up and holler “BOO-yah!”

Glancing away from our expert over to the jury box, I realized the jurors didn’t share my enthusiasm. We might think our expert was awesome, but the jury didn’t look the least bit entertained. They just sat there looking – not at our expert, but at Famous Lawyer!

Yes, it was the “frilled lizard technique.” Famous Lawyer knew he was getting crushed. Yet, instead of retreating, he puffed his chest and raised his bright frill. Smiling and nodding along with the expert, he acted like he was winning. His confidence was palpable. I honestly don’t know whether the jury thought Famous Lawyer crushed our expert or; worse yet, our expert was actually his witness. Either way, he scored points that day. I learned a valuable lesson.

Posted in Trial By Nature

Other Posts in this Series
March 1, 2017
Trial by Nature #2 – Tips to Survival in the Courtroom
April 11, 2017
Trial by Nature #3 – Tips to Survival in the Courtroom
May 22, 2017
Trial by Nature #4 – Tips to Survival in the Courtroom
July 13, 2017
Trial by Nature #5 – Tips to Survival in the Courtroom
October 7, 2017
Trial by Nature #6 – Tips to Survival in the Courtroom
January 23, 2018
Trial by Nature #7 – Tips to Survival in the Courtroom
February 10, 2018
Trial by Nature Tip #8 – Tips to Survival in the Courtroom
February 15, 2018
Trial by Nature Tip #9 – Tips to Survival in the Courtroom
February 20, 2018
Trial by Nature Tip #10 – Tips to Survival in the Courtroom

About the Author

Tricia M. DerrCo-Founder, Attorney
Tricia Derr is the co-founder of Lincoln Derr and serves at the helm of the firm leading all practice groups through active counsel, litigation, and advising. Ms. Derr is a litigator specializing in innovative multi-media communication, practical business-minded advice, and speaking to audiences in a “real”, non-technical way.
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