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