Posts in Trial Life
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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Senate Moves to Amend Washington's Barbaric Wrongful Death Law of 1909

Yesterday, the State Senate, approved a motion to amend Washington’s wrongful death act.

According to the Associated Press:

In debate before the vote, the bill's sponsor said the provision stemmed from efforts by business interests at the beginning of the 20th century to block claims made by the families of Chinese miners killed in workplace accidents.

"This law has its roots in racist origins," said Sen. Bob Hasegawa, D-Seattle. State documents date the provision in the law to 1909. Hasegawa's language echoed claims by the Korean parents of a student killed in the Ride the Ducks crash.

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Post Trial Motion: Ride the Ducks International Wants a New Trial and a New Judge

The jury renders its verdict. The media covers the story. The public sees the headlines. It looks like the case is over.

But no.

The 40 injured victims who have waited three and a half years for justice. Are still waiting.

Because Ride the Ducks International/its insurance companies have more legal moves to make.

Motion number one: Demand a new trial with a different judge.

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Your Honor: We object to ...the lego wall

I delegate the job of arguing legal motions and jury instructions to Andrew Ackley. He has this chore most days after trial and several full working days. At first sit at counsel’s table and watch him. But as the trial progresses, as soon as the trial day ends - bolt out of the door. Do not have the bandwith to listen to the tortuous exercise of compiling jury instructions nor the constant barrage of motions. Andrew is excellent. By dividing up these responsibilities can give full attention to preparing for the next trial day.

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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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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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