How to Avoid Six E-mail Mistakes Commonly Made by Negotiators

The following is from guest blogger Helen Leah Conroy, an Internet and commercial transaction lawyer who since 2001 has built a successful small firm practice.

Everyone uses e-mail in business and legal negotiations these days. What makes e-mail so convenient, however, also makes it dangerous. Here are six lessons you don’t want to learn the hard way.

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20 Questions for Your Final Case Management Conference

The eve of trial has finally arrived. Just one last proceeding before the big event: A final case management conference. Many courts require a final conference as a way of compelling the parties to complete many tasks that would otherwise take up time at trial. Even though you are in the midst of trial preparation, don’t overlook the importance of preparing for this last pre-trial hurrah. Continue reading

Supreme Court Waters Down Stream of Commerce Theory

The following is a guest blog post by Myanna Dellinger, a law professor at Western State University College of Law.

In a world marked by increased ease of conducting international business, you might think that it would also be getting easier to sue foreign corporations in American courts. Think again! In two new opinions, the United States Supreme Court shows just how hard it is to sue foreign corporations in the United States. Continue reading

The Key to a Persuasive Opening Statement: A Strong Outline

Although the structure of an opening statement will depend on the particulars of the case, the jurors, and your individual style, there is a general outline that can help you start off with a clear, organized, and — most importantly — persuasive opening statement. Continue reading

Rule Against Perpetuities Is Still Relevant

Remember the rule against perpetuities from law school? Although the rule against perpetuities is often associated with famous old English cases, it is actually a modern problem. As reported by the ABA Journal, the rule recently played out when the heirs of a “cantankerous Michigan lumber baron” finally reached the end of a $100 million waiting game for his estate, 92 years after his death. The rule may be old, but it still applies and California attorneys need to know how it works in this state. Continue reading

Testing for Psychopathy

Did you know that, before certain California inmates may appear before a parole board, a state psychologist first evaluates the inmate to determine whether he or she is a psychopath? And even more interesting, did you know that there is actually a test — the Psychopathy Checklist—Revised (PCL-R)  — that is designed to measure psychopathy? Well, it’s all true. But, as NPR reports, the use of the test in the criminal justice system has come under more intense criticism in recent years, with the test’s creator among the critics.

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Misconduct or Misinterpretation, You Decide

The ABA Journal reports that a Chicago lawyer wants a judge to exclude a buxom woman from the opposing counsel’s table at an upcoming trial because it is claimed that “the sole purpose of her presence at…counsel’s table is to draw the attention of the jury away from the relevant proceedings.” Is this an example of attorney misconduct, or simply the coincidental use of a buxom paralegal assistant?

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Be Ready for the Defense When Suing a City for a Pothole

In an earlier blog post, I discussed the elements of a claim against a public entity for dangerous condition of public property, such as a deep pothole or obscured signage at an intersection that causes a car accident. As a followup — and in response to a reader’s thoughtful comment — here are the defenses you may face when bringing such a claim. Even if all the elements of the claim are there, you always need to anticipate the public entity’s defenses. Continue reading

No Inheritance for Anna Nicole Smith: Ninth Circuit Was Right (Again) for the Wrong Reason

Update: In a reversal of fortune, the district court has awarded sanctions for discovery abuse in favor of Anna Nicole Smith’s estate and her daughter Dannielynn against the estate of her stepson, Pierce Marshall, and his attorney. In a sweeping decision (Marshall v Hilliard (In re Marshall) (CD Cal May 29, 2013, SACV-01-0097 DOC)), the court found that Marshall and his attorney had practiced a fraud on the court and made a mockery of the justice system by withholding or destroying documents, among other abuses. Smith’s estate now stands to collect much of the earlier damage award thrown out by the Ninth Circuit.

It isn’t often that a court is reversed twice by the U.S. Supreme Court in the same case and still had the right result. But in effect, that’s what happened to the Ninth Circuit in the Anna Nicole Smith case. Continue reading

Did Unreliable DNA Evidence Convict an American Student of Murder in Italy?

Update: An Italian appeals court threw out Knox’s murder conviction on October 3, 2011 and ordered her freed after 4 years in prison.

Amanda Knox was studying in Italy when her life changed forever: She was convicted of murdering her roommate. But there may be a glimmer of hope for Amanda, because two independent, court-appointed experts dispute as unreliable the DNA evidence that was crucial to the prosecution’s case. Sometimes a case can all come down to just how the evidence is collected and handled.

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