Mock Trial Basics of Evidence and Delivery


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This is an improvised document taken from the NYSBA website and used with permission from Patsy Lester. All credit goes to her.

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Mock Trial Basics of Evidence and Delivery

  1. 1. Evidence and Delivery Making Your Case Courtesy of Patsy Lester, East Islip High School
  2. 2. Author’s Note <ul><li>These are tactics that have worked for the East Islip Mock Trial Team in Region VI. I offer them as suggestions only. There are many other methods, so find the ones that work for you and your team. </li></ul><ul><li>The rules are based on the 2008 NYSBA Mock Trial case. Be aware that these rules change often, and always follow the most current rules. </li></ul><ul><li>Feel free to use and alter this presentation as it suits your needs. </li></ul><ul><li>In the spirit of cooperation, I’d appreciate feedback and suggestions. </li></ul><ul><li>Contact me at [email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>Patsy Lester, East Islip HS </li></ul>
  3. 3. East Islip High School (Region VI) 2008 NYS Champions These people like to brag. They can because they are New York State Champions.
  4. 4. Admissibility
  5. 5. Admissibility <ul><li>General Rule </li></ul><ul><ul><li>All r elevant evidence is admissible </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Relevant evidence has probative value </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Unduly prejudicial evidence may be excluded </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Foundations <ul><li>Requirements </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Relevance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Authenticity (witness has personal knowledge) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Laying a Foundation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Stipulations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>One or more witnesses </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Direct and Cross examinations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conditional admissibility (further facts, subject to connection) </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Admissibility Exceptions <ul><li>Rule 201 </li></ul><ul><li>Some evidence may be excluded </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Prejudicial value vs. the probative value </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Confusing the issues </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Results in an undue waste of time </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Character & Reputation <ul><li>Generally NOT admissible [202] </li></ul><ul><li>EXCEPTIONS: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>When character is the legal issue (slander, defamation cases) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Prosecution may not introduce character evidence to show propensity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>BUT if the defense offers evidence of good character to show innocence, the Prosecution may rebut </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Bias & Credibility are Admissible <ul><ul><li>Questions relating to the bias or credibility are appropriate for cross examination </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The bias must be relevant to the case at hand </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rule 308 : If the witness’ credibility or reputation for truthfulness has been attacked on cross, the re-direct may exceed the three question limit </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Hearsay
  11. 11. Hearsay <ul><li>Rule 401 </li></ul><ul><li>The most misunderstood legal concept!!! </li></ul><ul><li>Hearsay has a 3 part definition: </li></ul><ul><li>An out of court statement </li></ul><ul><li>Offered for the truth of the matter asserted </li></ul><ul><li>Made by someone other than the witness </li></ul>
  12. 12. Hearsay <ul><li>You cannot argue that something is not hearsay because it was said to the witness, or that the declarant is in court. </li></ul><ul><li>That’s the definition of hearsay- somebody ELSE said it, not the witness on the stand!!!! </li></ul><ul><li>**Can be spoken or written : documents are hearsay unless they fall under an exception… </li></ul>
  13. 13. Why is Hearsay Inadmissible? <ul><li>Context </li></ul><ul><li>Intent </li></ul><ul><li>Misunderstanding </li></ul><ul><li>Whether it was actually said </li></ul>
  14. 14. Hearsay Exceptions <ul><li>402: Admission of a Party Opponent- [admissions against interest] </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The declarant must be a party </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The statement must be related to the issue </li></ul></ul><ul><li>403: State of Mind </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The emotion, sensation, physical condition, intent, plan, health, feeling of the declarant </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Hearsay Exceptions… <ul><li>404 Business Record- </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A record kept in the normal course of business concerning an event or act </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Made at the time </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>By a person with knowledge </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Not in contemplation of litigation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>405 Present Sense Impression </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Statement describing or explaining a situation or condition </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Made while the declarant was experiencing the situation or condition, or immediately thereafter </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Business Records <ul><li>A business record DOES NOT have to have been made by the witness to authenticate it </li></ul><ul><li>A witness who can reasonably testify that this is how the record is normally kept [has personal knowledge] can authenticate a business record </li></ul>
  17. 17. Admitting a Business Record <ul><li>Have the document marked and ask the normal foundational questions, then </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Are documents such as this kept in the normal course of business? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Have you regularly kept such records? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>And was this record made at the time the issues/events/transactions it describes? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Was this document made in contemplation of litigation? </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Admitting a Business Record [cont] <ul><li>Other questions may be necessary to establish this witness’s ability to testify to this record. </li></ul><ul><li>Submit it as “ A business record exception to the hearsay rule ” </li></ul>
  19. 19. Opinion Testimony
  20. 20. Opinion Testimony <ul><li>501: Witnesses who are not experts may give opinions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>which are based on what they saw or heard </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>are helpful in explaining their story </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>of which they have personal knowledge </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>May NOT offer opinions on anything requiring special knowledge or training </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Opinion Testimony <ul><li>502 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Experts may render opinions based on professional experience </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Questioning attorney must bring out the expert’s qualifications, education and/or experience </li></ul></ul>
  22. 22. Physical Evidence
  23. 23. Physical Evidence <ul><li>Rule 601 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Tangible evidence </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Photograph, video: verify that it is a fair and accurate representation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Demonstrative evidence (map) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Signed documents </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Business records </li></ul></ul>
  24. 24. Offering Exhibits <ul><li>Have 4 copies ready </li></ul><ul><li>Have yours, marked where it’s relevant </li></ul><ul><li>3 clean copies for the </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Witness </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Judge </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Opposing counsel </li></ul></ul>
  25. 25. Exhibits [continued] <ul><ul><li>Mark for identification: Your honor, at this time I would like to have this document marked for identification as P/D exhibit [P- num, D-letter] </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mock Trial courtesy: cite the page in the case materials book for the fact finder’s convenience </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Show evidence to opposing counsel </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ask permission to approach the witness, or that it be shown to the witness </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>State “ I now show you what has been marked as exhibit…” or “Let the record reflect that I am showing the witness what has been marked as P/D exhibit …” </li></ul></ul>
  26. 26. Exhibits [continued] <ul><li>Ask foundation questions about the exhibit: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Do you recognize this? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What do you recognize it to be? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How do you recognize it? </li></ul></ul>
  27. 27. Exhibits [continued] <ul><li>Depending on the type of evidence: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>*Is it in the same or substantially the same condition as it was the last time you saw it? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>*Is that a fair and accurate representation? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>*Would it help you to explain what happened to the court? </li></ul></ul>
  28. 28. Exhibits [continued] <ul><li>Offer the Exhibit into evidence </li></ul><ul><li>Your honor, at this time I ask that what has been marked as P/D exhibit… be moved into evidence as P/D… </li></ul><ul><li>Have the witness use the evidence </li></ul><ul><li>Return to the bench: Thank you, your honor, I am finished with P/D Exhibit … </li></ul>
  29. 29. Objections to Exhibits <ul><li>Objections may be made at both identification and offer </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Foundation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Relevance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Prejudice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hearsay </li></ul></ul>
  30. 30. Delivery
  31. 31. Verbal Communication <ul><li>The Basics: </li></ul><ul><li>Show respect at all times: “ Mother may I?” </li></ul><ul><li>Confidence will gain points, but hubris and arrogance will lose points </li></ul><ul><li>“ Make noises like a lawyer” (ie: no “umm”’s) </li></ul><ul><li>Use common language </li></ul><ul><li>Use “legalese” precisely and sparingly </li></ul>
  32. 32. Verbal Tactics <ul><li>Directs should “sound like a conversation that the judge is eavesdropping on” </li></ul><ul><li>Crosses should be succinct, to the point, and all leading. </li></ul>
  33. 33. Verbal Tactics Continued <ul><li>Witnesses: use nouns and verbs instead of adjectives </li></ul><ul><ul><li>BAD: “It was a terrible storm” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>GOOD: “ It was raining really hard, there was thunder and lightening and huge gusts of wind ” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Signposts </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Now I’d like to direct your attention to the morning of September 24, 1999” </li></ul></ul>
  34. 34. Verbal Tactics Continued <ul><li>Primacy and Recency </li></ul><ul><ul><li>People remember what they heard 1 st and last </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bury harmful things in the middle of your direct </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Put your weakest witness in the middle </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Put the most damaging questions at the end of your crosses </li></ul></ul>
  35. 35. Nonverbal Communication <ul><li>Competition starts when you get off the bus </li></ul><ul><li>Stay in your role: the judge is watching! </li></ul><ul><li>Sit up straight </li></ul><ul><li>Watch your lawyers/witnesses! </li></ul><ul><li>If you don’t care, why should the judge? </li></ul>
  36. 36. Body Language and Eye Contact <ul><li>Do not walk and talk at the same time </li></ul><ul><li>Do not hold anything in your hands [like a pen] </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t crowd the judge or the witness </li></ul>AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE
  37. 37. Summary <ul><li>Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance </li></ul><ul><li>Confidence is the key to winning, and confidence comes from being prepared! </li></ul>
  38. 38. Created by Patsy Lester for the 2008 NYSBA Mock Trial Summer Institute [email_address]