Drafting the trial brief
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Drafting the trial brief



Theory of the Case

Theory of the Case



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Drafting the trial brief Drafting the trial brief Presentation Transcript

  • The Trial Brief & Supporting Memorandum
      • & CREAC Review
      • Professor Mathis Rutledge
  • Pretrial Motions
    • Motions – short & to the point
    • Accompanied by memorandum in support
    • Ex: Memorandum in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment or Memorandum in Opposition to Motion for Summary Judgment
  • Structure
    • Caption
    • Title
    • Introduction
    • Statement of Facts
    • Argument & Authorities
    • Conclusion
    • Signature Block
    • Certificate of service
    • Affidavits & Evidence
    Check the local Rules of Court first
  • Caption
    • Court and division
    • Each party’s name and designation in the case (Plaintiff & Defendant)
    • Docket number (usually gives year, sequential number of the case; type of case; information about the division or judge)
  • Title
    • Controlled by local rules
    • Tells who is filing the document & type
  • Statement of Facts
    • Remember your theory
      • Highlight favorable facts
    • Include all legally significant facts
      • Don’t misrepresent by omission
      • Don’t waste time with underlying facts
    • Include background facts
      • Places things in context
    • Include emotionally appealing facts
  • Statement of Facts
    • Tell what happened
    • Tell the truth, but tell it persuasively
    • Hold the court’s attention
  • Facts: Tell What Happened
    • Be objective, straightforward & accurate
    • Do not argue or discuss law
  • Facts
    • Don’t omit harmful facts
    • Supportable from the Record
      • Not inferences
    • Note page numbers and sources
  • Hold the Court’s Attention
    • Interesting
    • Easy-to-follow (organization)
    • Omit needless info
  • Protect Your Credibility
    • NEVER omit negative facts that are legally significant
    • NEVER omit facts the other side will rely on
  • Citations
    • Citations to court documents include parentheses
    • The period of the citation sentence should be inside the parentheses
    • Include pincites (line and page for deposition)
    • Do not include “p” for page
    • Dates only needed if there are multiple documents with the same title or the date is significant
    • Short forms may include id. or see Rule B10.5
  • Citations
    • Abbreviations for Court documents: Rule BT.1 (p. 25)
    • (Jones Dep. 10:5-8.)
    • (Mathis Aff. ¶ 2.)
    • (Def.’s Mot. Dismiss 23.)
  • Drafting the Facts
    • Tell the story that
      • Emphasizes theory
      • De-emphasizes unfavorable facts
    • Organize the story
      • Clear & persuasive
    • Edit the story
      • Ensure accurate & supported by the record
  • Unfavorable Facts
    • Place near a positive fact
    • Bury in the middle
    • Summarize
    • Writing Strategies
      • Passive voice
  • Tell a Compelling Story
    • Provide context first
    • Consider chronological order
    • Start & end strong
  • Multiple Claims
    • Draft a thesis paragraph for the facts – summarizing the bare bones of the case in 3-4 sentences
    • Instead of a chronological background, describe each claim separately
    • Style preference
  • Argument & Authorities
    • Weave facts & law persuasively
    • Select best & most persuasive
    • Organize
  • Argument
    • Start with threshold arguments
    • Next – strongest
  • Organizational Goals
    • Capture the reader’s attention
    • Show client’s position is correct & strong
    • Build credibility
  • Heart of the Brief
    • Introduction
    • Statement of Facts
    • Argument & Authorities
  • Introduction
    • Short, succinct paragraph (usually one)
    • Goals:
      • Identifies the client
      • Describes the motion
      • Identifies relief requested
    • If filing a response
      • Indicates opposition
      • Relief sought
  • Introduction
    • Compare to Overview Paragraph
    • Introduce client
    • State basis of lawsuit
    • Summarize your argument – possibly in a separate section
  • Summary of the Argument
    • Required by some courts (check local rules)
    • Identify the legal basis for why the motion should be denied (or granted)
  • Organizing the Argument
    • Let the issues be your guide
    • C onclusion
    • R ule
    • E xplanation
    • A pplication
    • C onclusion
  • CREAC (single claim)
    • C
    • Begin with conclusion or an overview paragraph
    • Identify the elements (issues in dispute)
    • State why summary judgment should be granted or denied
    • R
    • Identify the legal standard – summary judgment, motion to dismiss, etc.
    • For summary judgment – look at Celotex 477 U.S. 317 (1986) and Rule 56
  • Multiple Claims
    • Treat each claim separately
    • Example: suit for intentional infliction of emotional distress, constructive discharge and retaliation. Start with IIED
  • Multiple Claims
    • First claim – overview paragraph for that claim
    • Identify elements
    • Don’t discuss all of the elements
    • Focus on your strongest arguments
  • Point Headings
    • Summarize your argument in a concise and persuasive point heading
    • Ex: Smith suffered no severe emotional distress.
  • How to Craft Persuasive Point Headings
    • Point headings should follow breakdown of the rule(s).
    • Andrea will suffer irreparable harm.
    • The balance of hardship favors Andrea.
    • Andrea is likely to succeed on the merits
    • The public interest favors granting Andrea the motion.
  • Organizing
    • Under each point, begin with an intro that explains why you should win and state the conclusion you want the court to reach. (Can be +1 sentence)
    • State and prove the rule
    • Apply the rule
    • Restate your conclusion
  • Thesis Paragraph first element/first claim
    • Following the point heading – thesis paragraph on the issue
    • Ex. IIED requires severe distress
    • Identify the factors – the courts have found severe distress when . . .
    • Explain why plaintiff fails to meet the standard (or meets)
  • Analysis
    • Deductive writing pattern
    • Explain the rule
    • then
    • Apply to the client’s facts
  • Persuasive Rule Explanation
    • You can’t apply the law without knowing it
    • Assume you’re it
    • Use transitions and thesis sentences
    • Focus on the favorable
    • Identify the favorable rule the case stands for
    • Highlight favorable facts and reasoning
  • Dealing with the Bad Stuff
    • De-emphasize the unfavorable
    • Bury unfavorable information in the middle of a paragraph or in a dependent clause
    • Emphasize facts that are distinguishable
  • Dealing with Adverse Arguments
    • Don’t make arguments for your opponent but anticipate the most obvious ones.
    • Where to fit them in? Depends.
      • If mirror image of your argument, then your argument suffices.
      • If they are separate points, need to give it serious thought – maybe at the end.