Make Your Argument, But Don’t Argue with the Judge

ThinkstockPhotos-57277848An an attorney and an officer of the court, you sometimes have competing duties: to represent your clients zealously and to maintain respect for the court. When it comes to a disagreeable court ruling, you’ll need to make your strongest argument while remaining respectful to the judge. The key is to argue without arguing. Continue reading

Size Up Your Adversary

ThinkstockPhotos-494299501When it comes to litigating a case, your client’s objectives are only half the story. If you want to gain an advantage, you’ll also need to successfully assess your adversary’s goals, capabilities, and willingness to fight. Continue reading

Demonstrative Evidence: When You Want to Show and Tell

82770181An episode of This American Life described the failed effort to get a Tic-tac-toe-playing chicken into evidence in the death penalty case of a mentally ill man with a very low IQ. Defense counsel was trying to rebut a psychiatrist’s testimony that the defendant was aware he was going to be executed based on his beating her in a game of Tic-tac-toe. We’ll never know who would have won the game; the court refused to admit the chicken because it “would degrade the dignity of the court.” Although the chicken didn’t work out, demonstrative evidence can be a very powerful courtroom tool. Continue reading

Inadmissible Evidence May Still Get In for a Limited Purpose

78494947It may not be favored by courts or be the parties’ preference, but there’s a place for evidence to be admitted for a limited purpose. It can be seen as either a creative solution to an evidence admissibility problem or a way around the rules, depending on your perspective. Continue reading

Keep Cross-Examination Short (Unless You Shouldn’t)

153165013A successful evangelist once said about his sermons: “Nobody ever got religion after the first twenty minutes.” His time estimate may be wrong, but every evangelist and trial attorney has wrestled with the short attention span of their audiences. Continue reading

Like Steve Jobs, Unavailable Witnesses Can Still “Appear” at Trial

451334569In the trial of an antitrust case against Apple, Steve Jobs will come back to life as a key witness—if only in the form of his videorecorded deposition. Continue reading

Make a Plan for Each Witness

85449216Before you prepare a witness for trial, you should know precisely what you expect to accomplish through that witness. In other words, have a plan. Continue reading

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