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Can Opinion Come In Under the Business-Records Exception?

Here’s a common evidence question: Are opinions admissible when they’re in business records? The answer is generally “yes,” as long as the statement of opinion is in a writing that qualifies otherwise for the business-records exception to the hearsay rule. Continue reading

How to Cross-Examine on Reputation

Try this hypothetical: Opposing counsel has just finished direct examination of a witness who testifies that your adversary has the reputation of being scrupulously honest in all aspects of his life, including business transactions. How can you cross-examine on the nebulous concept of “reputation”? Continue reading

Before You Cross-Examine, Write This Down

“The toughest part of being a trial attorney, whether criminal or civil, is pulling off an excellent cross,” says Toni Messina in her article for Above the Law. So, if you’re a new trial attorney, or it’s been a while, it’s natural to be nervous about an upcoming cross-examination. An excellent way to calm your nerves and set yourself up for success is to write down virtually all of your questions and related information in advance. Here’s what to write. Continue reading

6 Ways to Streamline Evidence

Juries usually base their verdicts on a small number of crucial points. But lawyers tend to offer as much evidence as possible, believing this will make their case more convincing or fearing they’ll leave something out. Finding the fine line between making sure the point isn’t lost and losing the point by insulting jurors with repetition requires thought and preparation. Here are six methods for streamlining the evidence in your next trial. Continue reading

Don’t Let Fake News Cynicism Get in the Way of Your Social Media Evidence

The following is a guest blog post by Michelle Sherman. Michelle is the author of Winning with Social Media—A Desktop Guide for Lawyers Using Social Media in Litigation and Trial, a 2016 publication from the National Institute for Trial Advocacy. She has tried civil and criminal cases and is currently an in-house corporate legal counsel. She also is an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

For anyone who likes to wake up on a Sunday by reading the newspaper, it’s a sad day that legitimate news organizations are under attack and the term “fake news” has become associated with them. Beyond the personal implications, this may also have negative effects on your law practice. More skeptical jurors may mean that you have to work harder to authenticate documentary evidence, particularly social media evidence.
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Do You Know When to Use a Subpoena?

A “subpoena” is a writ or an order that compels a witness to either show up and testify or produce something. CCP §1985(a). You can use a subpoena in discovery or in a civil trial or hearing. Here’s a look at which type of subpoena to use in common situations. Continue reading

4 Things Expert Witnesses Should Read Before Trial

In addition to the file materials used in preparing for deposition—and that should be reviewed again for trial—there are at least four types of written materials that every expert witness should carefully read and analyze before testifying at trial. Continue reading

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