Questioning a Witness: Poor Questions Versus Good Ones

185496686When conducting direct examination, you generally can’t ask leading questions, i.e., ones that suggest a particular answer. Evid C §§764, 767(a)(2). And, of course, you can’t ask objectionable questions. For inexperienced practitioners, it can be hard to craft acceptable and effective questions while in the stressful moment. Practicing your questions in advance will be a great help, as will reviewing both positive and negative examples. Continue reading

Should You Save Something for Your Closing?

57277978Although it may be tempting to cover everything during cross-examination, there are situations in which it’s better to save something for your closing argument. In fact, it’s a time-honored rule among some litigators to always save something for your closing. But that strategy can be risky, too. Continue reading

3 Ways to Improve Trial Pacing

78724287One of the cornerstones in trying a good case is pacing. The attorney who proves everything proves nothing. It’s imperative that your case be pared down to its essential elements and presented concisely. Continue reading

Cautionary Tale: When a Stipulated Continuance Won’t Save You from Untimeliness

170446161A recent case shows what happened when counsel stipulated to a continuance that took the ruling on a motion to vacate a default judgment past the jurisdictional time limit. It’s the tale of a big win, followed by a crushing loss. And it was an issue of first impression, so arguably counsel couldn’t have seen it coming. Continue reading

Checklist: Does the Anti-SLAPP Statute Apply?

533402213An anti-SLAPP motion to strike is generally available when one of the causes of action in a case is based on an act of a person in furtherance of the person’s constitutional right of petition or free speech in connection with a public issue. CCP §425.16(b)(1). That may sound straightforward, but it can actually be tricky to determine if the statute applies to a particular cause of action you want to attack. Here’s a handy checklist to take you through the determination of whether an anti-SLAPP motion may be on the table. Continue reading

Know When to Cross-Examine and Know When to Pass

witness_158992082There’s a time-honored “rule” that, if a witness hasn’t hurt your client’s case, don’t cross-examine the witness, just stay seated. But whether this injunction makes sense depends on the strength of your case and the possibility that the witness can actually help it. Here are some situations in which you’ll want to get up and cross! Continue reading

Prepare Your Expert to Testify: A Checklist

533402213Whenever you have retained an expert witness to testify in your case—whether in deposition or at trial—you need to prepare yourself and the expert. Don’t just sit back and assume that the expert, who many have testified many times before, has it all worked out. You need to be up to speed on his or her testimony and to make sure the expert has enough information to be effective. Continue reading

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