Thursday, August 7, 2014




I have a spelling checker.
It came with my PC.
It plane lee marks four my revue
Miss steaks aye can knot sea.
Eye ran this poem threw it,
Your sure reel glad two no.
Its vary polished inn it's weigh.
My checker tolled me sew.
A checker is a bless sing,
It freeze yew lodes of thyme.
It helps me right awl stiles two reed,
And aides me when aye rime.
Each frays come posed up on my screen
Eye trussed too bee a joule.
The checker pours o'er every word
To cheque sum spelling rule.
Bee fore a veiling checkers
Hour spelling mite decline,
And if we're lacks oar have a laps,
We wood bee maid too wine.
Butt now bee cause my spelling
Is checked with such grate flare,
Their are know faults with in my cite,
Of nun eye am a wear.
Now spelling does knot phase me,
It does knot bring a tier.
My pay purrs awl due glad den
With wrapped words fare as hear.
To rite with care is quite a feet
Of witch won should bee proud,
And wee mussed dew the best wee can,
Sew flaws are knot aloud.
Sow ewe can sea why aye dew prays
Such soft wear four pea seas,
And why eye brake in two averse
Buy righting want too pleas.

Author: Jerrold H. Zar, Graduate School, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL 60115 - By the author's count, 123 of the 225 words are incorrect (although all words are correctly spelled).

Associate Professor Connie Krontz gave me this piece of writing or is it a “peace off righting.” Professor Krontz is a member of Seattle University Law School’s legal writing faculty. The legal writing program at SU is rated first in the nation or is that “rat it thirst?”

Thursday, May 1, 2014


Coming soon - June 2, 2014, Seattle University Law School and the American College of Trial Lawyers proudly begin the inaugural Advanced Trial Advocacy Institute (ATAI). This CLE program offers winning trial advocacy strategies and skills from preparation through closing argument. The Institute is designed to be the most comprehensive trial advocacy training program in Washington. 
31.5 CLE credits pending

The course will be taught by an outstanding faculty of over 20 accomplished trial lawyers, judges and communication specialists, including: Amy Forbis (Pres. American Board of Trial Advocates); Thomas Lemly (Pres. Wa. State Committee of American College of Trial Lawyers); Karen Koehler; Jeffrey Tilden; Lisa Marchese; Judge John Erlick; and Craig Smith (Senior Trial Consultant, Prolumina – Litigation Strategies).

Benefits of this week-long course:
  *   Preparing and trying a case with guidance and supervision.
  *   Seasoned trial attorneys, as well as communication specialists,
       provide feedback on your performances.
  *   One-on-one video review of your presentation.
  *   Develop effective courtroom communication techniques.
  *   Understand today’s visual trial technology.
  *   In-depth discussion on trial ethics and avoiding pitfalls.

The course is designed for new lawyers who are seeking a firm foundation in the finest trial skills through more experienced trial lawyers who want to take their skills to a higher level.

Click Here to REGISTER for this Event.

The program will be held at Seattle University School of Law

Click for  the schedule and click here for our faculty. Advanced Trial Advocacy Institute
For questions, contact us at  or (206) 398-4233.

Thursday, April 10, 2014


If you are unprepared to argue a motion, it shows. This was the take away that a significant number of my Seattle University law students noted in their reports on watching motions arguments in both state and federal court. I require that my Comprehensive Pretrial students attend a motion hearing and then write a report about what they observed. While they are free to write about whatever takes their fancy, this semester’s predominant theme was the importance of being prepared. Motion preparation is discussed at length in Pretrial Advocacy: Planning, Analysisand Strategy, 4th Edition. 

Below are some excerpts from their reports which drive home the point that a lack of preparation is apparent to not only the court but onlookers.

Pierce County Superior Court Civil and 
Criminal Motion Calendar – Student C. B.

C. B. attended a motion calendar for both civil and criminal matters, and he observed:

“I learned that it is obvious if you are not prepared to be before the court.  A few attorneys stumbled through folders while the court patiently waited for them to find what they were looking for.  I was surprised at how many times I heard things like, “Well, I just received a copy of the document a few days ago and so I haven’t exactly had time to look it over.”  I can’t tell if this goes to a lack of preparation, or the reality of the profession (or maybe both).”

United States District Court – Student N. D.

Student N.D. observed a motion for declaratory judgment concerning whether the case should be heard in federal or state court. One of the lessons that N. D. took away from the experience was the following:

“. . . if I ever plan on arguing a motion I need to be fully prepared and have a complete understanding of my case and all of its intricacies. If you are unable to answer certain questions about your case, it will downgrade the argument you are presenting even if it is on a completely different matter within the case.”

N. D. provided this example:

“When Judge X asked simple questions to the Y attorney about why federal court would be better and more efficient for his client over that of state court, the attorney, knowing his answer would be insufficient, tried to answer the questions in a round-about way by bringing up his argument for summary judgment. This delayed the entire process and frustrated Judge X as well as the opposing counsel. The Y attorney looked silly and unprepared.”

King County Superior Court – Student R. S.

Student R. S. watched the State’s motion to compel fingerprints from the defendant who was charged with Failure to Register as a Sex Offender. R. S. noted:

“The State’s performance was excellent.  The prosecutor was confident, spoke well before the judge, and had answers for every question received.  The prosecutor maintained a theme of a sex offender who persistently refused to register, despite state law, and who would continue to do so unless specific matters were taken.  The Defender, however, did not appear as prepared, spoke in a very low voice, and lacked the confidence the prosecutor had; yet, her performance was good. . .”

Another King County Superior Court Observation – Student M. T.

While some motion-observations taught the law student that the lack of preparation is obvious, other observations provided the students with opportunities to watch well prepared lawyers in action. Student M. T.’s report noted that the lawyers were well prepared but not as well prepared as others she was familiar with, as follows:

“These particular attorneys were adequately prepared to argue. They were timely, had their notes prepared, and seemed to have their arguments thought out ahead of time. However, what won out in the end was the ability to cite quickly to relevant arguments and create holes in the opponent’s case. If anything, I believe that the oral arguments we practice at school are better prepared and that we are more familiar with the cases than the attorneys that I observed. This is understandable, considering that attorneys have a full caseload in practice whereas we are given an entire semester to become familiar with the case at hand.”

When law students get out of the classroom and into the courtroom to observe trial lawyers at work, they invariably come away with valuable lessons that will stick with them as they head out into their legal careers. The lessons that preparation is critical to appearing professional and to a successful argument is an invaluable one.

Monday, April 7, 2014


When teaching pretrial or trial advocacy, it is important to get the law students out of the classroom to experience the real life of a trial lawyer. For my Comprehensive Pretrial Advocacy course, the students have a minimum of three experiences outside the classroom. First, we go to the scene – the Garage tavern (the class picture taken during the recent visit) where the shooting took place, which led to both criminal murder charges and the complaint for wrongful death. We use the cases in the Pretrial Advocacy book throughout the course.

The go-to-the-scene outing focuses on two teaching points: go to the scene because it gives the trial lawyer a firmer understanding of events that gave rise to the law suit, and go to the scene as soon as possible because the scene may be altered over time.

The other two experiences get them out of the classroom and into a courtroom. The second occurs when they appear before a Superior Court Judge to argue a motion (pictured below). This experience of appearing before a real Judge has a profound impact on the students. The motion argument constitutes a good share of their grade and is the equivalent of a final examination. The effect on them is apparent in the way they carefully prepare and effectively deliver their arguments. Not only does this opportunity often result in students expressing a desire to make a career of trial work but also gives them judicial feedback on how to improve.

Third, the students are required to go to court, observe a motion or motions calendar and write a report about their experiences. The students invariably praise this courthouse visit. For instance, this semester’s reports contained these comments, among many others:

·         “All in all a valuable learning experience.”
·         “I was able to leave the courtroom that afternoon with three very important takeaways.”
·         “It was comforting to see what we will be doing in the future and know that we will be able to do it well with hard work and dedication.”

As a pretrial and trial advocacy instructor, it is gratifying to read the students’ reports of their observations and to learn how being out of the classroom and in the courtroom can be such a worthwhile learning experience for them. This semester a theme ran through several of their papers relating to preparation for arguing a motion. In near future, I’ll share those students’ observations here.

Monday, March 24, 2014


Advancing Justice

For the past week, I have been in Pristina, Kosovo teaching trial advocacy. The U.S. Department of Justice offered this advocacy training as part of Kosovo’s effort to implement the rule of law. Kosovo is the world’s newest nation, having declared its independence in 2008. The population of Kosovo is approximately 1.8 million.

The people of Kosovo have great affection for Americans, and they were unfailingly gracious to us.  The U.S. involvement in bringing an end to the Kosovo war is a reason for this attitude, and their appreciation is evident with a statue of Bill Clinton on Bill Clinton Boulevard and American flags flying throughout the city.   

Attendees at the course were Victim Advocates. Victim Advocates in Kosovo have a four-year undergraduate degree in the law. Under the new Kosovo Criminal Procedure Code (effective January 1, 2013), they have a new active role in prosecutions. Their new responsibilities include augmenting the prosecution’s case and pursuing restitution and compensation on behalf of victims.

The attendees, like the vast majority of the population of Kosovo, were Albanian. One spoke Bosnian and the rest Albanian. The training was done with simultaneous translations.

The trial advocacy courses consisted of training two groups in two separate sessions back to back. Each training session lasted two and a half days. During the sessions, the attendees learned about prosecuting a case from opening statement through closing argument. Jury selection was not discussed because cases are tried either to a single judge or a three-judge panel depending upon the nature of the crime. The Kosovo criminal justice system is evolving. Besides not providing jury trials, there are many other differences from our criminal just system. Another example is that plea bargaining was not been possible in the past, and every case went to trial.

My co-trainers - Chuck Ex and Scott Thorley (Scott is pictured above) - and I lectured, demonstrated how to perform different parts of trial, such as give an opening statement, and worked with the attendees in workshops as they delivered opening statements and closing argument as well as conducted direct and cross-examinations. The criminal case fact pattern that they used is the one provided in Trial Advocacy: Assignments and Case Files, 2nd Edition

A highpoint of the week was attending an event at theUnited States Ambassador’s residence that honored Kosovo’s Forum of Women Judges and Prosecutors. Not only is our Ambassador Tracey Jacobsen a woman but so it the President of Kosovo Atifete Jahjaga. The President is an ex-police chief and only 38 years old. Pictured above are Vlora Citaku (Minister of European Integration of the Republic of Kosovo), Chuck Ex, the President, me and my wife. 

My colleagues pictured below  from left to right are: Michelle Lakomy (Resident Legal Advisor, Pristina, Kosovo) who was in charge of the program, Chuck Ex (Program Director for OPDAT – Office of Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training), Benina Kusari (Legal Specialist), me, Scott Thorley (Assistant United States Attorney in Salt Lake City, Utah), and Elisa Thana (Victim/Witness Advocacy Program Manager).

It was an honor to be a part of this ongoing endeavor to improve the skills of the Victim Advocates and to put into practice the rule of law in Kosovo.

Thursday, February 20, 2014


The Engaging Direct Examination

A poorly executed direct examination can lose the jury or bore them to snores. There are many ways to disengage the jury from your direct. Use the windshield wiper method (“What happened next?” “What happened next?”  And then what happened?”). While this may elicit the information, it can be as mind-numbing as watching your windshield wiper go back and forth. Call an expert who constantly speaks in technical terms that jurors can’t understand. Allow a dull, monotone voiced witness to drone on, thus sucking the oxygen out of the courtroom. Have the witness never once look at the jury. Only elicit words, words and more words from the witness.


Exhibits and Demonstrations: Break up the direct examination by spacing out the introduction of exhibits. This will enhance the presentation, change its pace and break up the testimony so that the jurors are not just listening to words. Most importantly your jury will have a significant number of predominantly visual learners. A demonstration will enliven the presentation and bring reality into the courtroom.

Variations in the Questioning: How you ask questions can keep the jurors’ interest. Vary tone of voice and volume. Embrace courtroom silence. If the witness gives a particularly good answer, remain silent and let the answer sink in. Change how the questions are phrased (not “What happened next?” repeated). Shift the tense from past to present tense to bring the action or scene to life. For instance: “When you enter the intersection, tell us what you see on your right?”

Directions: Keep the jury informed of where you are, where you are going and what they have heard. You need not tell a linear story during the direct. You can flash forward in time, flash back in time and even freeze on a subject or scene. But, wherever you go, the jury should not get lost. This can be accomplished with declarative sentences, such as, “Now, let’s move ahead to when. . .” Or, freezing on a subject, “Now, let’s discuss the scaffold.” While these are not questions, they normally are never objected to because people in the courtroom want to follow the testimony. Juror attention can be directed to what they have heard by using the looping technique, which involves incorporating the witness’s answer into the next question. For example, the witness answers, “I put on the brake,” and the next question is “When you put on the brake, what happened next?”  Looping repeats and highlights the testimony, and thus directs the jurors’ attention to the answer.

Energy: An antidote to counteract the poison of a dull direct is your energy. Ask questions with enthusiasm, informing the jurors that you want to know the answer. Sound interested in the answer. Energetically ask questions that the jury would want answered.

Witness Speaks to the Jurors: A common mistake on direct examination is to have the witness speak to the lawyer when answering questions. The only people in the courtroom who matter for the witness are the jurors because they are the fact finders. The jurors are the people to whom the witness should speak. During witness preparation, you can tell this to the witness and explain that the jury’s only job is to find out what happened. They are like the witness’s neighbors and have no axe to grind. They want to find what is true. Therefore, the witness should look at them and speak to them. If the court permits, counsel should stand behind the far end of the jury box away from the witness so that the witness is looking across the jurors towards counsel. During preparation, inform the witness that this placement is a cue to the witness to look at the jurors. Counsel can explain the positioning to the jurors with the first witness: “Mr. ____, I’m standing back here so that you will speak up so juror number 6 here can hear you.” This positioning results in the spotlight being on the witness and the jury looking at the witness as opposed to looking at the lawyer who asks the question and then to the answering witness as though the jurors were watching a tennis match.  If necessary because the witness looks away from the jurors, you can nudge the witness’s eyes back to them by saying, “Could you tell the jury. . .”

Direct examination provides the building blocks for the case, and therefore it is critical that the jury be engrossed during the examination. Additional practice pointers are provided in Trial Advocacy: Planning, Analysis and Strategy, 3rdEdition.

Monday, February 17, 2014


Seattle University launches Advanced Trial Advocacy Institute

Marilyn Berger and I have developed and chair this week-long (June 2-6, 2014) Advanced Trial Advocacy Institute. The Institute offers a proven conceptual approach to trial practice combined with premier trial principles and strategies for every phase of trial from preparation through closing argument. During the course the best of the best trial lawyers and faculty will provide lectures and demonstrations of successful trial skills.

Above all, course attendees will prepare and try a case, including conducting jury selection, presenting opening statement and closing argument and examining expert and lay witnesses. Seasoned and skilled trial attorneys as well as communication specialists will provide feedback and pointers on your performances. Also, your presentations will be videoed so that you can benefit from a one-on-one video review with a faculty member.  (30.5 general CLE credits plus 1.0 ethics credits pending)
Who Should Attend
The course is designed for both fledgling practicing lawyers, who are seeking a firm foundation of the finest trial skills through experienced trial lawyers, who want to take their skills to a higher level. The course is also open to a few select law students who have completed their second year and have taken an Evidence course. Seattle University Law Students will receive two academic credits for successfully completing the course.
Topics to be Addressed Include:
·         Developing Case Theories, Themes and Trial Strategies
·         Courtroom Communication Techniques
·         Trial Preparation and Planning
·         Effective Jury Selection
·         Convincing Opening Statement
·         Conducting a Compelling Direct Examination
·         Presenting and Attacking Expert Testimony
·         Creating Dynamic Trial Visuals
·         Today's Courtroom Technology
·         Trial Ethics and Avoiding Pitfalls
·         Impeachment and Concession Cross-Examination
·         Persuasive Closing Argument
Sponsors and Scholarships
The American College of Trial Lawyers sponsors the Seattle University Advanced Trial Advocacy Institute.  Additionally, the American College of Trial Lawyers is providing four scholarships for public or public interest advocates.  To receive additional information regarding applying for one of the four scholarships please email your CV along with a request for more information to: