UnderGround Forums
 

LegalGround >> May have my first trial tomorrow. Any advice?


10/24/11 4:27 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
HaMMerHouseFAN
55 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 1/1/01
Posts: 7889
 
 Actually this would be my first jury trial as I have had some bench trials already. It's a domestic violence 3rd degree felony case. Basically a he said she said where my client supposedly hit his ex-gf several times in teh face but there was just a small mark on her face that police said didn't know what caused it and didn't know how old it was. Also the police didn't take any pictures and there are no hospital reports.

My guess is the trial won't go because the Pros. hasn't been able to get a hold of the victim and this is the second court date (she didn't appear at the first one). Any advice for me or help on an opening statement?
10/25/11 12:58 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
pm1964
69 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 1/1/01
Posts: 32818
Too late for any help I suppose, but how did it go?
10/25/11 4:18 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
HaMMerHouseFAN
55 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 1/1/01
Posts: 7897
Victim didn't show so it got dismissed Phone Post
10/28/11 12:57 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Cookie Monster
92 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 3/3/03
Posts: 17156
Sorry I'm late! Glad the outcome was favorable.

I'd be glad to give advice but wifey is wanting sexy time right now, so I have to go.
10/28/11 6:23 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
HaMMerHouseFAN
55 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 1/1/01
Posts: 7902
Well, give some advice now Phone Post
11/7/11 5:52 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Cookie Monster
92 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 3/3/03
Posts: 17245
OK... here is my $.02

-Know your facts inside and out

-Know your opponent's facts to the extent possible, inside and out

-you simply cannot prepare enough! The more you prepare the easier the trial will become

-when giving your opening/closing do not use notes. Speak from the heart and tell the story to the jury but speak WITH the jury; make sure to make eye contact with each jury member as you will NEVER know who is for you or against you (you will be surprised both ways sometimes) as well as who will be the foreman

-Let some of your personality flair in opening and closing as this will allow you to humanize yourself with the jury and allow for your credibility.

-voir dire is critical IMHO as this is a golden opportunity to gain credibility with the jury AND expose your theory of the case to the entire jury pool. I.E. if judge lets you ask the questions its even better, "Have you or anyone you know ever been accused of something you didn't do, either in court or out of court?" "Do you believe a person has the right to defend themselves if they are attacked?" etc.

-Learned this the very hard way... keep an exhibit chart designating which exhibits are marked as what. That shit can get out of hand easily!

-Do your jury instruction EARLY ON! There is no reason to not have most of your jury instructions already out of the way WELL in advance of trial. You don't want to waste critical time a day or two before the trial doing bullshit JI's.

-Exhibits: get them set up and organized well in advance

-If you are using technological equipment, either the court's or your own, see if you can test it out ahead of time as you don't want to be trying to figure it out when its showtime. Another lesson learned the hard way.

-be careful and judicious in whom you "attack" on the stand for a variety of reasons but mostly dealing with credibility.

-If trying to catch people who are lying and in cahoots it can be tricky. IME (Experience) if they are in cahoots then they have reheareds their story several times and the story will be somewhat solid (often but not always). The best way to attack group lies is not to begin the unraveling from their strength, but rather their weakness. By that I mean and suggest you get into specific details about what happened BEFORE the incident in question or AFTER the incident in question as that is most often NOT rehearsed and you will often times catch major inconsistencies. These inconsistencies are what you use to unravel a lie or at least can argue are the telltale signs of a rehearsed lie.

-In criminal cases encourage your client to testify if you think they will hold up under cross (or even direct). Juries want and need to hear a person say "I'm innocent" or "I most certainly DID NOT do that"

-run your client through mock directs and mock crosses so you know what they will say, but also HOW they will say what they will say. Ask your questions differntly (in the same direction and gearing toward the same answer) at trial than as in your mock because you want your client to give GENUINE responses that do NOT come out as rehearsed! By asking the same question differently you will get a more genuine response as compared to the mocks.

-touch your client. when you stand up and walk behind your client put a hand on their shoulder; conveys a message to the jury that you are not afraid of your client and it humanizes them and you

-at some point when the judge dismisses the jury let the jury see you speaking softly to your client (maybe in their ear) and the client look at you and nod. Staticstically, it shows humanization and confidence in your case. I don't know how effective it is but I do it in every case and often. LOL sometimes I lean over to client and whisper "Look at me right now an nod... whisper jibberish... keep nodding."

I have much more but I have to go right now...
11/11/11 8:53 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
HaMMerHouseFAN
55 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 1/1/01
Posts: 7925
Thank you so much. Invaluable info. Please feel free to list more or I may copy and paste this into a new thread about making your life easier as an attorney. I appreciate it. Phone Post
11/11/11 6:06 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
419
9 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 11/12/00
Posts: 19835
TTT
2/23/12 10:22 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Cookie Monster
92 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Edited: 02/23/12 10:23 AM
Member Since: 3/3/03
Posts: 18089
Followup: (FRAT warning)

Opening/closing- these are your opportunities to frame the nature of your case in the light of YOUR choosing. Understand, if you are a defense attorney you are going second so the jury already has an inherent bias against you as people by nature have a tendency to believe the first story they hear (how significant this is is up for debate). If you are plaintiff then you get to go first and you are the LAST one heard... use those advantages wisely.

Use O/C as best you can. As a criminal defense attorney, in the opening I spend a minute talking about how the jury MUST overcome the urge to pass judgemnt when it hears the state's case as the state goes first and people want to believe the first thing they hear. How its their sworn duty to reserve judgement until the close of the entire case. How my client is going to take the stand... not because he has to, but because he wants to, how he WANTS them to hear what really happened. In that vein, sometimes I say there is two sides to every coin and until you look at both sides you really don't know the true nature of the coin you have. I take out a pre 1965 quarter and hold it up the tails side showing. I tell them the state is arguing this is a quarter and is worth 25 cents. Then point out, as I flip the coin, that upon seeing the other side, the side the state did not want you to see, you can clearly see that yes it is indeed a quarter BUT it is most certainly NOT worth 25 cents as the state would have you believe, as being pre 1965 it is made largely of silver and worth a great deal more than 25 cents. It was not until you the jury took the time to see the other side that you see the coin for what it really is... something like that. You can use that or make up your own. Let your mind wander.

More on openings and closings- of course law is important, however arguing law, IMHO, is less a than appealing or compelling tact. Tell a story, your clients story. Incorporate emotion into your story. Talk of fear, trust, anger, suffering, struggle, torture, joy, whatever you can to create an EXPERIENCE the jury can relive and FEEL. When the jury can FEEL what your client felt, then you are truly connecting. Speak of how your client has been wronged, by the cops or the state or the alleged victim or whomever, and how they the jury are the only ones who can make it right they are his last hope for justice. Express your clients emotions. In closing, tell the jury how you are glad they are hearing the case, how you have faith in them to do the right thing, how you believe they will do the right thing, how your trust them to do the right thing. Appeal to a higher sense of morality and duty. Build up their sense of honor in acquitting the defendant.


On investigating a case: WHENEVER possible, I strongly urge you... actually physically GO to the scene. Take the time and GO to the location and walk through the areas where things happened. Walk through what happened from every party's perspective. Go to where the witnesses were supposedly standing. Walk through their actions. I cannot tell you how many times actually going to the scene has changed my perspective on a case and materially altered my approach. You discover things a picture or even video couldn't show, ideas pop into your head, it becomes much more REAL and when it becomes real your brain kicks into overdrive. Your discovery might only be minor, such as grade or contour of the land, but it could be major, such as where the sun is at certain times of the day, etc. Trust me, go to the scene. Sure, I am guilty of not going to a scene and trying the case based on pictures or video someone else took, but I know now that I should always go to the scene if for no other reason than to at least look around.

More on investigations: When you go to a scene, knock on doors. Talk with neighbors, ask questions. You will be surprised what you can find out. Quickie of mine: I represented a guy in a personal injury case who was riding a motorcycle and was hit by a a car at an intersection at 3:00 am. My client is SEVERLY injured. No witnesses listed on the police report except people who were standing there when the cops got there. Cops find the guy who hit my client and fled the scene. Both my client and the other guy had been drinking. The question essentially is, who ran the red light? Not a good position for a plaintiff to be in, btw. Drunk plaintiff, drunk defendant, and a question of who ran a red light. Insurance company offers us $0 and tells us to pound sand. I go to the scene, take pictures, time the redlight, and then just knock on doors. Simply put, I find a guy who saw the accident literally 2 seconds after it happened and saw the car drive off through a redlight. I get an affidavit from him and insurance company pays a tidy sum. Had I not gone to the scene and knocked on doors my client and his family would be saddled with a lifetime of debt for medical expenses.

Preparing for a case: When you are preparing for a case. Find a way to get pissed off. Make yourself pissed at something, anything! Whether its how a client is getting fucked by the cops, or that lying maipulative cunt of an ex of his, or he might have done something wrong but doesnt deserve what he is getting charged with, or how he/she is INNOCENT and wrongly facing a felony record or listed on the sex offender registry, how the prosecutor is a fucking self-righteous nazi asshole, the insurance company is pure evil and your client's family is going to be destitue. Something! Personalize that "pissed off". Understand you are the last bulwark! Let the "pissed off" drive you and motivate you.
2/24/12 7:38 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
RexKwonDo
3 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 1/5/05
Posts: 1218
I use a similar strategy to your coin trick.

I bring in a stunning Thai woman and present her to the jury.

After a few minutes I expose her erect penis under her dress.



2/25/12 12:56 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
WikiTheWalrus
29 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 3/12/07
Posts: 6095

Trade in the Thai woman for a kitten. Trust me.

2/27/12 9:19 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
salyer36
15 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 11/3/02
Posts: 1975
I might have a jury trial in April and will be referring back to this thread. Thanks!
2/28/12 10:32 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
419
9 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 11/12/00
Posts: 20601
TTT
8/16/12 2:24 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
kartman2k
Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 11/11/06
Posts: 0
A little late, but Good job! You did the client a great service.

Reply Post

You must log in to post a reply. Click here to login.