Posts in Trial Life
Publicity in civil cases according to the Rules of Professional Conduct

(a) A lawyer who is participating or has participated in the investigation or litigation of a matter shall not make an extrajudicial statement that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know will be disseminated by means of public communication and will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding in the matter. (b) Notwithstanding paragraph (a), a lawyer may state:

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Keep your head to the sky

Judges don't like it when us attorneys can't stop bickering.  They are irritated by having to deal with our exchanges of snipes, digs and downright insults.

Last month after a trial ended, two jurors followed me down to the courthouse lobby.  They wanted to talk about what happened.  Both commented on how impressed they were that the attorneys acted in a civil manner.  Sure we disagreed with each other and objected and there were tense moments.  But we were not overly disrespectful like the lawyers they saw on television.  They appreciated that.

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Life after trial

I believe that lawyers take too much credit when a trial is won and too much responsibility when a trial is lost.

Of course this is our j.o.b.  We are in it to win it.  Our client's well being is our number one top absolute priority.  And regardless of the reasons why sometimes we cannot convince the judge or jury of our position - it totally bites when we lose.

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48 Hours

4:30   Slide sideways out of bed.  Do everything necessary to get out of house.
5:15     Drop Nala off at downtown dog lounge.
5:45     Arrive at SeaTac.  Park.  Walk.  Get thru security. Wait. Board.
7:00    Lift off.  Eat lemon luna bar.  Pull up P case on ipad.  Exhibits have been loaded into Trialpad.  Scroll through them.  Nod off.  Child kicks seat.  Get back to work.  Eat too many grapes.

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The day voir dire didn't start 'til 4:00: and an updated voir dire do's an don'ts list

Trial day 1: 

Instead of doing her usual acrobatic routine, Nala is curled up around my feet. On the little rug in front of the sink.   I glance up at the little crystal clock on the shelf. It says 6:10 which means it is 7:10 since the clocks sprang forward Sunday. Haven’t changed it yet. The mental math keeps me sharp. Or so I tell myself.

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Dear Karen - Do you wear suits to trial, if not what's your typical "trialwear"

A male news anchor from Australia wore the same suit every day for a year - changing his shirt and tie - and no one noticed.  He did this to prove a point after becoming frustrated with the constant criticisms levied by the public against his female co-anchor's appearance.

"No one has noticed; no one gives a s**t.  But women, they wear the wrong colour and they get pulled up.  Women are judged much more harshly and keenly for what they do, what they say and what they wear."

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Argument by iphone

Alarm goes off.  Am already conscious.  Tissues surround me.  Am ill.

Have to be in court by 8:45.  Go through the motions.  Get there in time.  Judge S is late.  We are set to argue before a jury trial starts at 9.  They are at the voir dire phase.  The prosecutor and defender are chatting.

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Damages Opening Statement: catastrophic brain injury case

Both sides used extensive demonstrative exhibits during opening.  Basically we agreed that I could use what I wanted so long as they could use what they wanted.

The transcript is not very accurate (understatement).  The courtroom was video recorded.  If we wanted a quick transcript, at the end of the day  the bailiff would copy the recordings and provided them to a court reporter. The reporter would then transcribe from the videos with only moderate success.

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The angry juror: a trial diary story

 This excerpt is from a 2012 trial.

Trial day 2

Arrive early to get everything set up for opening.  The Prolumina (tech) guy is there to run everything for Nick the defense lawyer.  He is playing with our big tv.  We are chit chatting and my computer won’t boot up. Are you kidding me.  Hard start it.  Nothing.  Not panicked at all.  Which sounds ridiculous.  Should be hyperventillating.

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Tips for attorneys: direct exam of a daughter

This is a trial diary excerpt from 2011:

Four more witnesses testify – but only want to talk about one of them.  The 38 year old daughter.

How do you turn a witness into someone a jury will connect with.  Well, for starters you stop believing  you have magical persuasive powers.  Presenting a family member means getting out of the way so they can show their love.  It means creating a safe place.  It means embracing the human condition.  Not in a data collecting, data spouting lawyerly way.

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The joys of trying a case...at the last moment: a trial diary story

This morning am in a bright red ruffled shirt with the obligatory black.  Here is my confession.  Want to wear an old favorite pair of heeled Franco Sarto boots.  They will look great with the outfit.  There is just one catch.  You see, they have been up on the back top shelf patiently waiting for me to take them to the repair shop.  For over a year.  The toes are a bit pointed and the soles have partially rubbed off at the tips.  Looking up at them as they hang over the shelf, you can see the white rubbed away part.  No holes.  Not quite.  But still a bit shoddy.  Yet they would be perfect.  So (and this is the confession part), pull down the boots.  Pull out a black magic marker.  Scribble all the white away.  And presto.  The outfit is now complete.

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How Allstate made the jurors wait to start...for over 6 hours: a trial diary story

Trial day 1

Instead of doing her usual acrobatic routine, Nala is curled up around my feet.  On the little rug in front of the sink.   I glance up at the little crystal clock on the shelf.  It says 6:10 which means it is 7:10 since the clocks sprang forward Sunday.  Haven’t changed it yet.  The mental math keeps me sharp.  Or so I tell myself.

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Trial Cross of a defense neurosurgeon: using paper cups, water and a raincoat

Prologue: Plaintiff had back surgery.  She had returned to work only just the past week, when she was hit hard by a bad driver.  Ultimately she needed a second surgery due to the crash.  The bad driver admitted fault and her company paid.  But she didn't have enough insurance.  So our client, Ms. P made a claim under her Underinsured Motorist Policy.  Which is what you are supposed to do.  Allstate, her insurance company, required her to sue them as that is what the UIM policy says has to happen.  Ms. P sued Allstate.  Then went thru Mandatory Arbitration.  But Allstate didn't like the verdict so they appealed it and forced a jury trial.  Their main witness was Dr. Blue, a retired neurosurgeon.  During the direct exam, he tells the jury that Ms. P's additional problems after the crash, are related to her pre-existing conditions that had been mildly strained.  He says her second surgery wasn't related to the crash.

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