Posts tagged trial diaries
Ride the Ducks Trial Day 32: a chorus of objections

Skype witness Dr. Laukant is from Wisconsin – doctor for Rhonda C the former UPS driver who lives with her wife in Amish country.  We are avoiding calling doctors except for the cases involving surgery.  Here, the defense has denied all of the medical bills and so we need to go through the technical dance of having a primary care provider testify that the referrals were appropriate, the care reasonable and necessary, and the total hip replacement in particular related to the crash. 

In the first minute of testimony, ask if she’s a treating physician for the plaintiff, and Steve Puz objects. 

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Ride the Ducks Trial Day 30: The Hiraokas

Walk up stairs.  See the Hiraoka family.   One year ago took two trips in the space of two months to Japan to visit them.  First trip was a botch job because Scott did not realize you can only take depositions at the US Embassy in Tokyo.  Second trip the deposition went forward in the dingy embassy conference room. 

Dr. John Clark the lay witness is standing with them.   Greet them.  Walk into courtroom. Jesica tells me the interpreter is running late.  Then she tells me that our three witnesses for Tuesday are being stricken.  This is all awesome news first thing on a Monday morning.

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Ride the Ducks Trial Day 62: If We Could Turn Back Time: Closing Argument Ride the Ducks Trial

Jesica has marked off our half of the courtroom to reserve it for cocounsel clients, members of the law firm, and people who want to cheer us on.  Defense counsel ignore the signs and line up behind Jesica.  


Andrew shows me some of the transcript from yesterday.  Since I tactically missed it.  They are complaining about the second screen.  Conspiracy theorizing  am trying to block their view of the jury or vice versa.  So the judge tells them to move over next to us.  It’s even pettier than that though.  Remember the lego wall we built to keep them at least symbolically on the other side.  Well they have been stressing about that wall ever since.  They start to complain to the court that I might do something with legos during closing.  She shuts them down.  Seriously.  They are in a tizzy over a screen and legos on the eve of closing.  Gawd.

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Ride the Ducks Trial Day 19: Dr. Kleweno

Wake up too early.  Go back to pretend sleep.  Lie there.  Perform countdown of how long it will all take.  Remember Alysha has gone to the cabin with Nala and the house is totally quiet.  No Nala to feed or take potty.  Or to laugh with.  Reduce countdown.  Thirty minutes later have donned black cream and red plaid slim slacks, red shirt with ruffles, favorite Boss black jacket and pointy toe heeled boots with tassles that swing back and forth. 

One of the challenges in representing 40 people in a mass disaster trial is to put on their medical damages cases without taking weeks and weeks.We have been streamlining the case not only since before trial began, but also during trial.

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Ride the Ducks Trial Day 16: The Safety Director

Jury is filing in.  Am standing off to the side to let them pass.  Realize still wearing sneakers.  Judge has noticed and chuckles.  Rush to chair.  Sit and buckle ankle straps of heels.  This looks better with stockings, black criss cross in the front bcbg skirt with raspberry toned red Moschino jacket over free people wildly batique-ish top with key hole neckline. Costume bangles accompanying apple watch.

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Ride the Ducks Trial Day 14: Yuta

Just spent a weekend in Lululemon and now it is time to get court ready again.  There have been times over the years where have resented having to figure out what to wear.  Including whether to repeat or not in a long trial.  But dressing up for court is really like putting on a costume for the big show.  There is a stage and audience and what we wear is a part of the whole process.  So for the most part, don’t whine.  Messages are being sent by what we wear in court.

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Ride the Ducks Trial Day 13: A beloved mother

Today’s uber driver is from Romania where everyone crushes grapes in vats at their homes. Some is saved as grape juice for the kids.  The rest is put in a bottle.  In 6 months there is good wine.   Better than you can get at Safeway.  He would like me to use uberXL versus uberX.  The numerous reasons range from the safer more superior status of his SUV to what difference does a few more bucks make if we are all going to die anyway. Drops me off.

Get through security without beeping.  Climb 9 flights.  Enter on the dot at 8:30 as ordered by the court so we can address pretrial matters.  8:45 Mr. Ulmer announced her honor will be arriving in 7 minutes.  Her bus has been delayed again.  She arrives.

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Ride the Ducks Trial Day 11: Opening Statement

Walk into courtroom with Alysha.  Most of law firm family have come to watch.  Clients many with co-counsel have arrived.  Some from around the world.    Press is establishing base camp in the rear.  As the minutes approach 9 the room fills. 

Put bags on the table.  Step out of tennies and into heels.  Walk behind 85” tv that is in front right corner of the room.  Breathe in and out.  Kevin the court reporter is setting up.  He says are you trying to avoid all the people.  Nod at him.  Smile.  Find center.

Judge Shaffer enters just before 9.  Jury comes in.  Sits.  Instructions are read.  Judge says:  now please turn your attention to the plaintiff for opening statement.

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October 1, 2018 through February 7, 2019

Two weeks after Liam is born we start the Ride the Ducks Aurora Bridge trial. In the months leading up to the trial stop writing or discussing the case publicly. This includes to the media, to social media, to this blog.

The jurors will be instructed not to read, watch, or listen to anything about this case. They will not be reading this blog for example. So it is not quite clear how pretrial publicity especially in a civil case can be prejudicial if the lawyers talk to the media which the jurors will not be reading. Rather than debate the issue look to The Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC) 3.6.

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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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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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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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Say hi to my daughter: the tale of a grumpy Allstate lawyer

This is an excerpt from my trial diary day 3.  In most car crash cases, the jury is never told about insurance.  This old rule makes no sense in our current world.  This case is brought against Allstate for failure to pay an underinsured motorist claim (UIM).  The person who hit M did not have enough insurance. They paid what they had.  Now M seeks to recover the balance from her own UIM coverage.  Allstate has a "sue us" clause in their policy.  This means, if they don't agree to pay the UIM claim, they force their own insureds to file a lawsuit.  This is what happens here.

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The trial diary that almost wasn't

I first tried a MIST case (Minor Impact Soft Tissue) fifteen years ago. Glenn Phillips (he of the billboard/tv/bus/cab advertising fame) was the defense lawyer.

I was going to be speaking in the country’s first “How to Hammer Allstate” seminar conceived by my then law partner Pat LePley. So I needed a sample case. One of my existing clients was involved in a zero property damage car strike. I took it on to see what Allstate would do. They hired Glenn, his associate, a biomechanic expert and an orthopedic surgeon who wrote a 35 page report. Our side had a chiro who had never testified before even in deposition. And the husband (a Boeing engineer) to counter the defense biomechanic. Well, we beat the zero offer. And got over a grand in sanctions because Allstate refused to admit fault until the first day of trial. My love affair with MIST cases was born.

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