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Drafting the trial brief


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Theory of the Case

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Drafting the trial brief

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