Skip to main content

Trial Superstitions

Four trial lawyers find that a little luck never hurt

Published in 2019 Northern California Super Lawyers magazine

Debra Bogaards

What: I always wear my same blue suit for both opening statement and closing argument, because I want to subliminally send a message to the jury that the road map I gave them in opening, I proved with the evidence during trial. By mirroring my clothing, I want to remind them that what I promised them came true; I am standing before them again, this last time, having made good on my promises. 

When/how did it start: This superstition started in my very first trial. I just believe that navy is crisp and projects honesty. It happened organically.

Does it work?: It’s subtle, but it has worked well for me. Or maybe it just gives me the confidence that I need to win.


Miles Cooper

What: Finding a heads-up penny, particularly during trial.

When/how did it start: I had the benefit of spending 17 years practicing with Cynthia McGuinn, an amazing trial lawyer. At some point during our trials, we’d find a heads-up penny. And we generally did pretty well. While I did not consider myself superstitious when I first started practicing, it reached the point where, if we did not find a penny, I’d start getting concerned.

Does it work?: I’ve found a heads-up penny at some point during every successful trial. But I’ve also found heads-up pennies during some of the cases I’ve lost. That said, I’d rather have a penny in my pocket (that I found during trial) when the verdict gets read than not.


J. Kevin Morrison

What: For the first day of every trial, I wear my grandfather’s cuff links.

When/how did it start: I didn’t start wearing French cuffs until 10 years or so ago, and started wearing them then. My grandfather was humble, loving, and had a deep faith, and I always find great comfort knowing I am wearing something he wore. I take solace—in the stressful atmosphere of trial, whether it is picking a jury or going over critical pretrial motions—that he is with me.

Does it work?: I haven’t won all of the cases I tried when I wear them, but I know that they make me feel better about everything.


Shaana Rahman

What: I always carry the same old composition notebook with me to every trial, that has a photo of Joan Jett pasted on the back cover. 

When/how did it start: As a kid, Joan Jett was everything my friends and I wanted to be: fierce and take-no-prisoners. So when I was preparing for my first trial, and feeling pretty nervous, an old “What Would Joan Jett Do?” T-shirt inspired me.  I figured if I needed a shot of fierceness during trial, I could just flip to the back page of my notebook.

Does it work?: I won that trial and have never tried a case without it. 

Other Featured Articles

A Civil Defense

Don’t underestimate the cordial Nancy Sheehan

Innovation & Collaboration

Three Maryland family law attorneys reflect on 112 combined years of practice Featuring Linda J. Ravdin, Marni B. Schwartz, Darcy A. Shoop

'You're Not Gonna Wear Us Down'

Employment litigator Rachhana Srey rises to every challenge Featuring Rachhana T. Srey

View More Articles Featuring Lawyers »

Page Generated: 0.12157201766968 sec