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Drafting the trial brief

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  • NOT: My opponent will argue X, but this is wrong because… INSTEAD: Opponent misconstrues the exception allowing employers to test employees as part of an ongoing investigation into economic losses.
  • Transcript

    • 1. The Trial Brief & Supporting Memorandum
        • & CREAC Review
        • Professor Mathis Rutledge
    • 2. 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
    • 3. Structure
      • Caption
      • Title
      • Introduction
      • Statement of Facts
      • Argument & Authorities
      • Conclusion
      • Signature Block
      • Certificate of service
      • Affidavits & Evidence
      Check the local Rules of Court first
    • 4. 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)
    • 5. Title
      • Controlled by local rules
      • Tells who is filing the document & type
    • 6. 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
    • 7. Statement of Facts
      • Tell what happened
      • Tell the truth, but tell it persuasively
      • Hold the court’s attention
    • 8. Facts: Tell What Happened
      • Be objective, straightforward & accurate
      • Do not argue or discuss law
    • 9. Facts
      • Don’t omit harmful facts
      • Supportable from the Record
        • Not inferences
      • Note page numbers and sources
    • 10. Hold the Court’s Attention
      • Interesting
      • Easy-to-follow (organization)
      • Omit needless info
    • 11. Protect Your Credibility
      • NEVER omit negative facts that are legally significant
      • NEVER omit facts the other side will rely on
    • 12. 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
    • 13. Citations
      • Abbreviations for Court documents: Rule BT.1 (p. 25)
      • (Jones Dep. 10:5-8.)
      • (Mathis Aff. ¶ 2.)
      • (Def.’s Mot. Dismiss 23.)
    • 14. 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
    • 15. Unfavorable Facts
      • Place near a positive fact
      • Bury in the middle
      • Summarize
      • Writing Strategies
        • Passive voice
    • 16. Tell a Compelling Story
      • Provide context first
      • Consider chronological order
      • Start & end strong
    • 17. 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
    • 18. Argument & Authorities
      • Weave facts & law persuasively
      • Select best & most persuasive
      • Organize
    • 19. Argument
      • Start with threshold arguments
      • Next – strongest
    • 20. Organizational Goals
      • Capture the reader’s attention
      • Show client’s position is correct & strong
      • Build credibility
    • 21. Heart of the Brief
      • Introduction
      • Statement of Facts
      • Argument & Authorities
    • 22. Introduction
      • Short, succinct paragraph (usually one)
      • Goals:
        • Identifies the client
        • Describes the motion
        • Identifies relief requested
      • If filing a response
        • Indicates opposition
        • Relief sought
    • 23. Introduction
      • Compare to Overview Paragraph
      • Introduce client
      • State basis of lawsuit
      • Summarize your argument – possibly in a separate section
    • 24. Summary of the Argument
      • Required by some courts (check local rules)
      • Identify the legal basis for why the motion should be denied (or granted)
    • 25. Organizing the Argument
      • Let the issues be your guide
      • C onclusion
      • R ule
      • E xplanation
      • A pplication
      • C onclusion
    • 26. 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
    • 27. CREAC
      • 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
    • 28. Multiple Claims
      • Treat each claim separately
      • Example: suit for intentional infliction of emotional distress, constructive discharge and retaliation. Start with IIED
    • 29. Multiple Claims
      • First claim – overview paragraph for that claim
      • Identify elements
      • Don’t discuss all of the elements
      • Focus on your strongest arguments
    • 30. Point Headings
      • Summarize your argument in a concise and persuasive point heading
      • Ex: Smith suffered no severe emotional distress.
    • 31. 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.
    • 32. 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
    • 33. 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)
    • 34. Analysis
      • Deductive writing pattern
      • Explain the rule
      • then
      • Apply to the client’s facts
    • 35. 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
    • 36. 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
    • 37. 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.