The Do’s and Don’ts of Building Your Case with Social Media Info

The following is a guest blog post by Renee Galente Stackhouse. Renee is the founder and trial lawyer at Stackhouse, APC, where she focuses on plaintiff’s personal injury and military defense in San Diego. She is the immediate past President of California Women Lawyers, President of the CWL Foundation, Chair of the CLA SSF Section, and sits on the Board of the San Diego County Bar Association.

You would be surprised how easy it is to find public information on the Internet. Or maybe you wouldn’t, given the many stories of jobs lost and cases jeopardized by social media posts. Using Google and social media searches on parties and witnesses can be very helpful to your case, but make sure you don’t overstep. Continue reading

9 Ways to Challenge Breath Test Evidence

Breath testing is the most widely used method of determining whether someone is above the legal limit for operating a motor vehicle after consuming alcohol. But its scientific basis has been questioned. This list provides defense counsel with several ways to challenge breath test evidence. Continue reading

3 New Rules Every Criminal Law Attorney Needs to Know

new rules of professional conductThe following is a guest blog post by Garrick Byers, known as the Statute Decoder because of his facility in interpreting statutes and rules. He is the chairperson of the California Public Defenders Association’s (CPDA’s) Ethics Committee, and is a former CPDA president. He is a criminal law specialist and a frequent speaker and writer on criminal law topics, including ethics. He was a public defender for 33 years and is currently in private practice, handling criminal law appeals, writs, motions, and case consultations.

The new California Rules of Professional Conduct, effective November 1, 2018, use the format and much of the substance of the ABA Model Rules. Here are three of the most important changes for prosecution and defense counsel. Continue reading

Choosing the Appropriate Elder Abuse Civil Protective Order

GettyImages-940320528 (1)Unfortunately, elder abuse is a much more rampant problem than we’d like to admit. In fact, studies show that approximately 10 percent of Americans aged 60 or over have experienced some form of elder abuse.

For attorneys with older or at-risk clients, it’s important to keep in mind the different protective orders available and to select the most appropriate order to ensure your client’s ongoing safety and welfare.

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Silence: the Valuable Right that Protects Your Client

right to remain silentDefense counsel should remember one basic rule when consulted by a client during a criminal investigation: Tell the client not to speak about the case with anyone. This means no talking to the police, probation department, girlfriend, boyfriend, mother, father, sheriff’s deputy, cellmate, news media, bail agent, or best friend.

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Begin and End with Your Strongest Questions

use strong question to open and close your cross-examination of a trial witnessWhen cross-examining a witness, almost always begin and end with your strongest questions. Except in a couple of situations. Continue reading

Get a Crash Course from Your Expert

Learn fast from your expert about the area of expertiseSome lawyers decide at the beginning of a case that they’ll never be able to understand what the expert is talking about, and they make no effort to do so. Bad plan! Regardless of the expert’s skill, it’s the lawyer’s responsibility to make sure that his or her expertise is presented to the trier of fact in an admissible and persuasive way. To do that, the lawyer needs to understand the expert’s testimony and field of expertise. Here are four ways to educate yourself fast. Continue reading

Should You Object to Compound Questions?

A question to a witness is objectionable on the ground that it’s compound if it joins two or more questions with the disjunctive “or” or the conjunctive “and.” But it may not always make sense to object. Here’s a look at the dangers of compound questions and how to handle them. Continue reading

3 Times Not to Ask Leading Questions on Cross

attorney questioning witness during cross-examinationLeading questions are the main tool of the cross-examiner—they tell a witness how to answer by suggesting an answer. See Evid C §764. But you should also know when using leading questions on cross-examination isn’t the best technique. Continue reading

3 Things to Know about the Crime-Fraud Exception

lawyer meeting with clients and getting confidential informationExceptions to the attorney-client privilege in California are set out in Evid C §§956–962. Of particular interest since the FBI’s raid on the office of President Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen has been the crime-fraud exception to the privilege. Under this exception, there’s no attorney-client privilege “if the services of the lawyer were sought or obtained to enable or aid anyone to commit or plan to commit a crime or a fraud.” Evid C §956. Let’s break that down into three keys points to know. Continue reading