Pretrial, Trial, Appellate & Evidence Blog

Pretrial, Trial, Appellate & Evidence Blog Blogs

Latest from Pretrial, Trial, Appellate & Evidence Blog

Randy Cox, a friend of mine and a trial lawyer in Missoula, MT, sent me an email telling the tale of a Chicago lawyer named Frank Oliver who defended a client against a federal prosecution that hinged on the testimony of one criminal informant.  The defense was simple – can the jury believe the testimony of a paid government informant who was a self-acknowledged murderer, arsonist and thief. Here is Randy’s email:     This weekend,…
Professor Ron Carlson Visual LitigationBook Review By Ronald L. Carlson Fuller E. Callaway Professor of Law Emeritus University of Georgia Ronald Clark and his coauthors Patrick Muscat and Thomas O’Toole have delivered a gem in the book Visual Litigation:  Visual Communication Strategies and Today’s Technology.  The text is dedicated to supplying a working knowledge of modern technology for today’s litigators.  The suggestions for creation and display of electronic visuals are valuable for trial attorneys, as…
By the time you reach closing, jurors will have likely pretty much have made up their minds. If you’ve done your work in jury selection, opening, directs and cross, they hopefully are leaning your way and are rooting for your client. By closing, the jurors know the facts and what the dispute is. Closing argument is not the time to rehash the facts The important closings are not made in the courtroom, they are made…
Cross-examination can expose the improbability of a witness’s testimony. The evidentiary authority for probing the improbability of a witness’s testimony is found in Evidence Rules 401 and 611. Rule 401 states the test for relevance: “Evidence is relevant if: (a) it has a tendency to make the existence of any  fact more or less probable.” Rule 611states that the court may “exercise reasonable control over the mode and order of examining witnesses and presenting evidence…
Addressing a jury in opening statement and closing argument are exercises in public speaking. Studies have shown that the number one thing people fear most is public speaking. The second on the list of things people is death. Jerry Seinfeld put it well when he said, “At a funeral more people would rather be in the coffin than delivering the eulogy Comedian Bob Hope said, “If you’re not nervous before you perform, you’re probably dead.”…
Jury Selection Handbook: The Nuts and Bolts of Effective Jury Selection has a robust companion website. This website contains invaluable transcripts of jury selections, sample juror questionnaires and motions including these: change of venue; for additional peremptory challenge; reasonable time for counsel to question the jurors; challenging the array; and so on.  In addition, the website is regularly supplemented with additional materials. The 2020 Supplement contains the following new articles by the authors as well…
  This from the Texas Bar Journal (from a trial transcript): The Court: Next witness.Ms. Olschner: Your honor, at this time, I would like to swat Mr. Buck in the head with his client’s deposition.The Court: You mean read it?Ms. Olschner: No sir, I mean swat him in the head with it. Pursuant to Rule 32, I may use this deposition for any purpose, and that is the purpose for which I want to use…
Navigating Jury Selection Over Zoom By Thomas M. O’Toole, Ph.D. and Kevin R. Boully, Ph.D. King County Superior Courts recently announced that voir dire will mostly be conducted over Zoom as part of the effort to resume civil jury trials during the COVID-19 pandemic. This move allows trials to resume without the need for large groups of people to be in the same place in order to conduct jury selection. It is an important step…
Pretrial advocacy can be taught online. When the pandemic hit us in the middle of my Spring Comprehensive Pretrial Advocacy course, I took what I learned from Seattle University’s Center for Digital Learning and Innovation about designing an online course and applied it to the remainder of the course. It was not ideal having the students argue a motion with Zoom, but it was satisfactory.   A good online course is quite different from one…