Mind Map of the Month: Theft of Government Property Template (Law) Richard W. Vitaris

Richard Vitaris
Richard Vitaris EN Basic Posts: 39 Star Contributor
edited November 8 in Tips and Templates

If you have an important meeting where you need to speak, respond to questions, and keep track of the points you want to make, a Mind Map can really help. This template is one I developed for use by trial lawyers, but anybody who needs to speak at any type of public meeting can make good use of it by making a few easy modifications. 


This template uses an example of a case involving theft of Government property. This particular template could be used by a prosecutor, defense attorney, investigator, or a judge (that’s how I used it). But the template can be easily modified for use by anyone who wants to keep track of the arguments raised and the evidence presented in this or any other context from a Homeowner’s Association Meeting, a negotiation over a contract, or whatever.

This particular template lists the elements of the crime of Theft of Government Property. These are the three things a prosecutor would need to prove the case: 1) that the defendant took the property; 2) that the defendant intended to permanently deprive the government of the property; and 3) that the property was the property of the Government. Each element is a separate branch of the map. 

For each element, there are subbranches to identify the exhibits (documents), if any, relevant to the element, the witnesses who will testify about the element, and the points that the attorney will make when making his or her final argument before the judge or jury. Finally, there are check boxes which can be marked when evidence is introduced or an argument has been made. That way, nothing can be overlooked.

While this mind map is based upon a relatively simple, single charge, the template can be readily expanded for cases with multiple and complex charges. The mind map can be easily collapsed or expanded allowing (in this case) the trial lawyer to have all aspects of the case available on a single map. And, as explained earlier, the template can be readily modified for any other type of situation where a public speaker needs to keep track of what he or she says or does.

To view or copy this map in the MindMeister Public Maps Universe go to https://www.mindmeister.com/map/1974152589/theft-of-government-property-template-law?fullscreen=1&v=public


  • Olaf Roeb
    Olaf Roeb MT Tester, EN Pro Posts: 121 Star Contributor
    edited February 1

    Hi Richard,

    This is so impressive, thank you very much for sharing and describing how you use the map. The content as you explained shows every element you or a defense attorney/ prosecutor need to guide the part of the process you are in, also providing attachment/link points for all relevant documents and names/functions of participants respective to that part. Even for a total layman like me in terms of law enforcement and jurisdiction, it's not difficult to imagine this map expanded in great detail, and still serving a clear structure and great support to lead the process or meeting.

    It's also beautifully designed, and the choice of theme and colors strongly support focusing and reorientation when a new matter comes up. I don't use straight lines/connections very often, but I need to rethink that, it makes for clarity and helps focus a lot on your map. It might also help to memorize very quickly.

    Something I absolutely love about many of the (new) MindMeister themes from the first moment is that they allow you to be instantly attracted, and to like the overall picture, or attract others, regardless of the content, and this one is a very convincing example.

    If I may ask some questions way out of my territory of experience:

    • Do you also provide/instruct members of the jury (who usually are laymen like me) with this kind of help?
    • Do you/did you teach law at some point in your career, and use this kind of map to instruct law students or young lawyers?

    Again, thank you for sharing, I would love to see more of what you learned in so many years of using productivity tools.

    Best, Olaf

  • Richard Vitaris
    Richard Vitaris EN Basic Posts: 39 Star Contributor


    Thank you for your kind words about the map. In the US, I was an administrative judge and my hearings were before the judge alone, not jury trials. In jury trials, only documents admitted into evidence can be given to the jury, so they could not be given a mind map. In the cases I heard as a judge, I would often create my own mind maps to keep track of things. They were just for my own use so I didn't worry about how they looked.

    You asked if I have taught law. I was never a law professor but have taught often at what we call Continuing Legal Education or CLE. Americans love acronyms. I use mind mapping for teaching and webinars all the time in recent years. For that reason, I hope MindMeister gets its presentation mode for the new editor done soon.

    Like you, I usually used curved rather than straight lines for my maps but have decided that I like straight lines for maps presenting information and curved lines for brainstorming and analyzing issues where connections between topics is important.

    I agree that the maps created with the new editor are far more visually appealing than those created with the old editor. They are a huge improvement. Now, if only MindMeister can get all of the old editor's features into the new!

    I see you are in the Schwarzwald region of Germany. I started my legal career as an attorney with the US Forces in Germany. I made it as close to you as Mannheim and Karlsruhe. I loved my time in Germany.

    i will continue to share my maps and productivity thoughts.



  • Doug Kemp
    Doug Kemp EN Basic Posts: 1 Beginner
    edited February 3

    Thanks for the feature and explanation. I am new to mind mapping and was wondering if there is a way to access this map for free?



    Edit: I found the link, apologies!

  • Andrew Lapidus
    Andrew Lapidus Admin, MeisterLobster, DE Business Posts: 977 Community Admin

    Thanks so much for sharing, @Rvitaris! Thrilled to be able to feature your expertise in mind mapping with such an intriguing use case in our mind map of the month!

    Like @Olaf Roeb, I also don't have any experience in law, but have always been a proponent of using mind maps to breakdown complicated logical relationships into their most basic components, as you've done here! In my work, this has been especially important in software development and general decision making.

    Your basic setup of starting with three propositions/conditions which need to be fulfilled in order to reach a certain outcome, and then subdividing these propositions into their most basic components is an excellent demonstration of this concept. Thanks again, and looking forward to hearing more! 😃



  • Lina
    Lina EN Basic, MT Tester Posts: 22 Active Contributor

    Hey @Rvitaris this was really interesting to hav e a look at! I have 0 knowledge of law but you made it easy to understand anyway - for this I am grateful. If this structure was to be used in public speaking, am I right in assuming you'd discuss Topic 1 first then the subtopics from top to bottom and the sub-sub-topics from top to bottom, then move to Topic 2 and do the same?

    Thanks, Lina

  • Richard Vitaris
    Richard Vitaris EN Basic Posts: 39 Star Contributor


    The template is both an outline of points you wish to make as well as a checklist to make sure that all of the relevant points are covered. In giving a speech, you would make your points in whatever order you decided upon. But, if you are participating in a meeting or group discussion, you might not stick with a set order since you might want to respond to something already raised by someone else, or decide that a particular topic has already been adequately addressed by someone else.

    The check marks are to help you keep track of both what has already been said and those points you still need to address.

  • Miša Hennin
    Miša Hennin Admin, MeisterLobster, EN Business Posts: 1,070 Community Admin

    Good morning @Rvitaris,

    Thanks so much for sharing this mind map. And thanks for taking the time to explain how this template could be taken and used by those outside of your field!

    I can definitely imagine how notes like this can bring a natural fluidity to speeches/ meetings compared to linear notes. I'm interested to try this out!



  • Lina
    Lina EN Basic, MT Tester Posts: 22 Active Contributor

    Hey @Rvitaris sorry for the late reply here!

    Thanks for the info. I'm also wondering whether you kept it in digital format or printed it off? i know this is just personal preference and either would work but I imagine for public speaking it's probably nicer to have a sheet of paper with you than a laptop?

  • Richard Vitaris
    Richard Vitaris EN Basic Posts: 39 Star Contributor

    Lina, I usually use the digital version but some American courts do not allow electronic devices to be brought into the courtroom so, sometimes, I need to have all my maps printed out.

  • Emily
    Emily EN Pro Posts: 132 Star Contributor

    Love this @Rvitaris! A similar structure works for taking classes 😀

  • Lina
    Lina EN Basic, MT Tester Posts: 22 Active Contributor

    Interesting @Richard Vitaris thanks for letting me know!