Pretrial, Trial, Appellate & Evidence Blog

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Most Americans are watching or reading about the impeachment hearings without either an understanding of what constitutes evidence that would be admissible in a court of law or how to evaluate the evidence. What most Americans know about evidence law they learned from television and movies, and that information is usually wrong. Why should it matter whether or not those of us who follow the impeachment hearings know some evidence law and how to evaluate…
–> The word “misconduct” has nasty connotations.   “Misconduct” has been defined as “intentional wrongdoing” and specifically “deliberate violation of a law or standard especially by a government official.”[1]   When referring to alleged prosecutorial error, some appellate courts have elevated the prosecutor’s conduct to that tantamount to criminal behavior.  For instance, State v. Campbell, 23 P.3d 176, 181 (2001), observed:  “The question of whether a particular prosecutor has been guilty of misconduct in the…
You can get a copy of Jury Selection Handbook: The Nuts and Bolts of Effective Jury Selection if you teach and want to request a copy of this course book. The preferred method of getting an examination copy is to visit the Jury Selection Handbook’s page and just click on “request a complimentary copy” button at the bottom of the page. Your request should include the course name for which the book is being considered, semester(s)…
Cross-Examination in the Dr. Conrad Murray (Michael Jackson manslaughter trial) How you prepare your witnesses for direct and cross-examination is critical to your success in trial. The following is an indispensable checklist along with notes for thorough and effective witness preparation. Ö      Preparation for the courthouse and courtroom: –      Courthouse – where is it? Note: It is not unheard of that a witness will go to the wrong courthouse or courtroom. Tell your witness not…
The Jenner and Block Attorney-Client Privilege Handbook was recently distributed through an email by David Greenwald. Greenwald wrote: “This work has evolved from a modest outline inspired by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Upjohn Co. v. United States more than 30 years ago.  Through regular provide practical information for in-house and outside counsel.  “We provide this document to our clients, friends and colleagues free of charge.  Please feel free to forward the handbook to anyone who…
Let’a examine how lawyers communicate in writing. Here’s how a lawyer wrote the sentence—“I give you an orange”: I give you all and singular, my estate and interest, right, title, claim and advantage of and in that orange, with all its rind, skin, juice, pulp and pips, and all right and advantage therein, with full power to bite, cut, suck, and otherwise eat the same, or give the same away as fully and effectually as…
If you were asked for the advice that you would give to an aspiring law student about how to become a competent lawyer, what would you say? Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter gave this advice: My dear Paul, No one can be a truly competent lawyer unless he is a cultivated man. If I were you, I would forget about any technical preparation for the law. The best way to prepare for the law is…
In a book I edited, entitled The Appellate Prosecutor: APractical and Inspirational Guide to Appellate Advocacy, the Honorable Paul Turner, who when the book was published was Presiding Justice of the California Court of Appeals Second Appellate District of Los Angeles, California, contributed a chapter. Judge Turner’s chapter focuses on the art of writing, specifically on crafting the short declarative sentence, which he referred to as “The Key to Good Legal Writing.” Here is…
Paul Luvera –> Faced with juror bias during deliberations, the foreman took matters into his  own hands. At the conclusion of deliberations, the foreman told the media, “The jury was biased.” Politically biased. He said that a few of the jurors were aligned with the political views of the defendants in a first-degree assault case, and this led to seven days of jury deliberations, ending with a hung jury with nine of the twelve jurors…
–> “Lesser artists borrow; great artists steal.” This is a statement attributed to Pablo Picasso. The same proposition holds true for great trial lawyers. Lesser trial attorneys borrow; great trial lawyers steal. The greats study what other trial lawyers have done, they remix it and transform it into their own work of art. This is particularly true of closing argument. Vincent Bugliosi –> Francis Wellman –> The second trial lawyer is Francis L. Wellman, an…