Pretrial, Trial, Appellate & Evidence Blog

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What follows is a list of six of my favorite books on trial advocacy. These books are not strangers to this blog that concentrates on the art and science of advocacy because I have blogged about most of them before. Below you will find the six favorites, including mine of course. With each book, you’ll find a link to where you could purchase it on Amazon as well as a gem from the earlier blogs…
Rayvid’s Jury Selection Platform Under Construction Online jury selection looks like it is here to stay. During the pandemic, jury trials have been conducted remotely via Zoom. In King County, Washington, the Superior Court began with bench trials over Zoom and by the beginning of 2021 had conducted 100 of them. Then, the court started holding virtual civil jury trials. For all of these trials, the jurors remained at home and the other participants were…
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…