Posts tagged witness
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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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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The 4 lamest words used to conduct direct exam of a fact witness

Drive up to the gate.  Pay $15 for a parking pass.  Drive 100 feet forward and turn left.  Find a space and park.  Am barefoot.  Slip on shoes.  Exit car.  Walk around the side of the building.  Open the doors.  Am now inside the UW school of law.    Head down the hallway to room 138.  Open the door.  It's a big theater styled space.  Walk down the stairs to the front.  Give Bill Bailey a hug.  He’s a full time professor there for now.  This is the big lecture class for the trial advocacy program.

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The spinning instructor

Trials don't have to be boring.  The best witness is someone who can show as well as tell.  In this excerpt from my trial diary, you can see why.

Which brings us to witnesses #28 and 29.

The first owns ProRobics, a health club on Queen Anne that has been around for over three decades.  She is extremely svelte and immaculately groomed.  She’s been in the industry for 35 years.  Mimy (our associate) talks to her about the makeup of the club (40s-60s primarily).  The boomers started the health club industry and are expected to continue into their 70s.  I like this as our youngest juror is 37.   She confirms that plaintiff was a spin instructor for a decade before the crash, and that he could have taught for a lot longer.  She sets the stage for our last witness.

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The volley

I'm deposing an angry reluctant witness who is trying to be on good behavior.  I could rip him to shreds but that won't help the case so I refrain.  I need him to help me rip someone else later.  He is probably a little older than me.  A self made man who's  worth millions.  He reminds me of Jack Nicholson in "A Few Good Men" with all of his pent up fury and rigid bearing.  Beyond the touch of a mere mortal - enter me.

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