Monday, January 10, 2011

It's Trial Time!

I'm not as cool as Vinnie and Pauly D. with their "T-shirt time!" mantra, but it is indeed "Trial Time!" for me.  I'm heading out on Thursday for an out of town trial and will be there for probably a couple of weeks.  Our awesome Judge informed us last week that our trial will be starting late due to a criminal trial that is going to run over, so as of now, we have no idea what day the trial is starting, so we are just heading out as planned and will wait it out.  Since I was out of the office for all of last week, there is a ton of work backed up (I never realized how very needed I was on this case), so the next couple days before I leave are full of work to do, and we will be working from our "war room" set up in the hotel at the trial location at the end of the week and throughout the weekend.  The set up for a trial is amazing -- we are bringing printers, computers, all kinds of files and documents, setting up our network there, etc.  Opposing counsel suggested putting things off until February, and we were like, "Uh, no, we have about $20,000 worth of deposits at hotels and flights and such.  We are going now." 

I'm very excited about this because although I am a litigation attorney who has been practicing for slightly over six years, this is my first trial.  Can you believe it?  The fact is that most cases settle before trial.  I think the stats are something like 95% of cases settle.  I've been really close to trial a few times, and have gone through all the pretrial stuff like jury instructions, trial briefs, exhibit lists, witness outlines, demonstratives, etc., but then the case settled, sometimes on the eve of trial.  That really kills you inside because you've already done all of the trial work, so you just want to go because who knows when the next trial opportunity will arise.  This one is not going to settle.  We are going, even though our Judge does not want to deal with us and is practically begging us to settle.  Oh well, it is what it is. 

I get to examine two witnesses, so that is also extremely exciting (and very nerve wracking!) for me.  Seriously, I don't know what the hell I'm doing, so at least the jurors may get a laugh out of me when I try to mark exhibits and such with shaking hands.  Trial is way different than arguing in front of a panel of judges, which I am quite used to by now.  But, I know the facts and I know the case, so with that I don't think I can screw up too badly.  Knowing the facts is three quarters of the battle.  And I'm fine with speaking in public, so...we'll see.  I don't suspect I'll be as slick as Sam Waterston on Law and Order, but I'll do my best.

My secretary (who is not as dumb as she appears) finagled her way onto the trial team and will be coming with us.  She essentially went over my head to the lead partner and asked him if she could come.  She never asked me, and I didn't offer her up because I really didn't think we needed another secretary to go.  At best, she will be exposed for her total incompetence, but I think what is really going to end up happening is she will be getting food for us and running other gopher type errands that anyone with even half a brain could do.  But, whatever.  The more, the merrier, I guess.  Who knows?  Maybe she will completely surprise me.

I'm very excited about this, in part at least because it gives me something to totally focus on for the next two to three weeks.  When at trial, you are immersed, so the timing really couldn't be better.  I'll try to update around here after Thursday, but we'll see how it goes.  Hopefully the hotel has wireless access.  They should, right?  Don't most hotels have wireless nowadays?  At worst, I can sneak down to the war room late at night and update my blog, or shield my laptop screen when I am working in there.  Ha ha. 

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