Monday, September 23, 2013

Trial Postponement: Why This is Frustrating for both Clients and Lawyers.

    Last Thursday, the Judge continued (postponed) a trial scheduled to start today (Monday) for 45 days.  The Defense did not want to go to trial.  Because Judges are never reversed for postponing trials (and sometimes reversed for refusing to postpone trial for a party that claims not to be ready), the postponement was granted.

    For the client, postponement is another frustrating event in a long process.  Psychologically ready for trial, the Client must regroup and prepare to fight another day.  In the meantime, the stress and uncertainty of  resolution that only a trial can bring to an end, continues.

    For the lawyer, postponement presents a series of events as the lawyer stands down in his trial preparations while, at the same time, beginning preparations for the new dates.  These steps include:

    1.    Notifying each and every witness who has made room in their schedules to testify that the trial is being postponed.

    2.   Working with the same witnesses to reserve time on the new date to testify.  It is not unusual to deal with scheduling conflicts on the new date.  This all has to be worked out.

    3.    Reviewing the Lawyer's Calendar to address scheduling conflicts on the new trial date.   With the trial case having the highest priority, this means addressing new dates for other cases.

    4.    Continuing to work on issues pertaining to exhibits that are not resolved simply by the postponement of trial.

    5.    Reviewing the status of other matters that were being put on hold because of the now-cancelled trial.

No matter what happens, one has to continue to play their hand smartly.  See


Monday, September 9, 2013

Preparing for Trial: Always a Surprise

    I am preparing for a trial in 2 weeks.  The case is straightforward in that my client was injured in a motor vehicle accident and there is no question that it was the other driver's fault.  Still, over the last 3 weeks, there has been a constant parade of filings by the defending lawyer, identifying new witnesses with questionable connections to the case, accusing my client of dishonesty, and accusing myself of misconduct.

    Why is this?  Here are some possible reasons.

1.  While it may seem that everything should be resolved prior to trial, there are regularly loose ends that have to be addressed.  This is part of the challenge of going to trial.  You have to keep your eye on the goal and move forward no matter what issue is raised.

2.    With legal responsibility unresolved, the defense lawyer has nothing else he can talk about.  All he can do is make molehills into mountains and raise innuendo.  Unfortunately, sometimes this is an effective strategy because juries can be fooled.

3.    Different lawyers have different standards of professionalism.  In this case, the opposing lawyers practice is to do this.

So, what does one tell the client under these circumstances:  When it comes to trial, expect the unexpected, be prepared for unpleasant "surprises" from the other side, respond to the best of your ability, and put your best foot forward.

    As always, the bottom line is to play the hand smartly to the best of your ability.  For clients, this is advice more easily given than followed.   See