Basic Skills in Trial Advocacy

Course Number: 
Deborah Young

Week 1: Fact Gathering and Case Preparation

Full Class on January 16th

Chapter 2 of Murray, pages 7-18
Chapter 4 of Murray, pages 53-67
Read and be sure you know:
Rules 26, 30, 32, 33, 34, 35 and 36 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
Rules 15, 16 and 17 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure

The first step in a trial is to gather the facts to begin your preparation. This week we will:

1. Identify the ways facts are gathered for a case.

2. Determine the elements that must be proved for a case. You can discern these from jury instructions and statutes governing the case. If you are the defense, you should also determine the elements of any affirmative defense.

3. Identify the facts for your case. Which facts are beyond change? Which facts are in dispute? Which facts help your side? Which facts hurt your side?

4. Having identified the facts, what is your factual theory of the case? Your theory of the case should be a logical, persuasive story of “what really happened” consistent with the undisputed evidence, your version of the disputed evidence, and common sense.

5. What is your legal theory of the case? How do your facts lead to your winning the case under the governing law?

6. Determine whether any motions in limine are appropriate. Do you have an evidentiary argument to exclude or admit any particular evidence?

7. What theme or themes will you have and what memorable words or phrases will you use to summarize your position on critical issues?

8. What exhibits will you use in your case?

In the large class on Thursday we will discuss these steps using the short case Nita Liquor Commission v. Cut-Rate Liquor and Jones that can be found on page 3 of your Problems in Trial Advocacy book. Please be thoroughly familiar with this case.

Page last updated: Thu, 01/09/2014 - 15:36

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