Litigation Tips


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Tips and Techniques for the Trial Practitioner

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Litigation Tips

  1. 1. LITIGATION TIPS Ricardo G. Cedillo Davis, Cedillo & Mendoza Inc. Marcos G. Ronquillo Godwin Ronquillo PC Victor Vital Greenberg Traurig LLP TEXAS MINORITY COUNSEL PROGRAM
  2. 2. “ Begin with the End in Mind” <ul><li>One of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People made famous in Stephen R. Covey’s bestseller. </li></ul><ul><li>A principle that every attorney should take to heart at the outset of every case. </li></ul><ul><li>Your success or failure at trial hinges on the ability to condense a world of information into a package that resonates with the jury and is consistent with the “end” you have in mind. </li></ul><ul><li>Every decision and action should then be guided by your desired result. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Getting There – Developing Your Claims
  4. 4. Use of Rule 202 Depositions <ul><li>TRCP 202 allows a person to petition the Court for an order authorizing the taking of oral depositions prior to filing suit either </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(a) to perpetuate testimony, or </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(b) to investigate a potential claim or suit. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>TEX. R. CIV. P. 202.1. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Advantages of Rule 202 Depositions <ul><li>Investigate a potential claim or suit. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>More serious than a demand letter. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Shows the other side you are serious. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Provides a unique opportunity to explore settlement. </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Rule 202 Guidelines <ul><li>Be specific about underlying facts. </li></ul><ul><li>Be specific about anticipated claims. </li></ul>Petitioners seek to depose these witnesses to investigate possible claims such as due process violations under the United States and Texas Constitutions; violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act; violation of Texas Local Government Code and Competitive Bidding Statutes; violation of the Texas Free Enterprise and Anti-Competition Act; violation of the Texas Transportation Code; breaches of contract under its various leases, breaches of fiduciary duty by and among the Board, its members, officers and staff in violation of the 1968 Agreement; and for damages, and declaratory and injunctive relief resulting therefrom as a result of the actions, or inaction, of certain directors, officers or employees of the Board. Petitioners request the opportunity to depose the witnesses as set forth in Exhibit A to further investigate these claims.
  7. 7. Rule 202 Guidelines <ul><li>Be specific about areas of questioning. </li></ul><ul><li>Petitioners expect to elicit testimony from the persons listed in Exhibit A regarding their knowledge of certain facts and information as follows: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>policies and procedures used in the selection process of certain concessionaires at DFW Airport; </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>the negotiation and award of food and beverage concession contracts with concessionaires at DFW Airport including Petitioners, and the participation of any Board members, officers and staff in such process, and any irregularity or impropriety associated therewith; </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Board and staff administration of concessions policies and procedures at DFW Airport, and its oversight and/or lack of oversight of food and beverage concessions management and administration; </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Board and staff administration of the MWBE Program, and Airport Concessions Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program with regard to Petitioners and others, and any irregularity or impropriety associated therewith; and </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>the selection process and procedures implemented by the Board, its officers and staff, in the competitive bidding, sole source and direct negotiations processes for food and beverage concessions contracts and any irregularities or impropriety associated therewith. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Briefly stated, the requested witnesses have knowledge of or were principally involved in the negotiation, selection, and award of certain food and beverage concession contracts, and management and administration of food and beverage concession leases and concession policies at DFW Airport since at least 2007 through the present. Allowing the requested depositions will prevent a failure or delay of justice because it will allow Petitioners to more fully evaluate their claims. See Tex. R. Civ. P. 202.4(a). </li></ul></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Depositions <ul><li>Executive Summary Sheets </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In-house uses </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Client uses </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Page/Line </li></ul>Who was the witness? What did they testify to?
  9. 9. Emails <ul><li>Forward all emails. </li></ul><ul><li>Go to the highest/most uninformed recipient. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Document Management <ul><li>Whether it is a small personal injury case or… </li></ul>
  11. 11. Document Management <ul><li>… BP Oil Spill Litigation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>1.5 million documents currently in database. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>15 million pages (est.) </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Document Management <ul><li>You have to manage your documents. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In-house </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Indexing </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Out sourcing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>On-line </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Document Management Software </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Summation </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hot Documents </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Know Your Limitations <ul><li>“ As we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns -- the ones we don't know we don't know.&quot; </li></ul><ul><ul><li>– Donald Rumsfeld </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14.
  15. 15. Know Your Limitations <ul><li>Consider retaining experts to assist with issues such as liability or damages. </li></ul><ul><li>Consider retaining other attorneys to assist with highly complex areas of the law that require specialized Practitioners, e.g. U.S. Supreme Court Practitioners. </li></ul><ul><li>A Board Certified Appellate Attorney is an asset to any trial team. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Initial Case Preparation and Strategy
  17. 17. Develop a Case Theme & Theory <ul><li>Theme should be no more than one to two short-sentences. </li></ul><ul><li>A power-packed statement that has emotional appeal and hits on the universal themes of equality/freedom, fairness, and/or accountability. </li></ul><ul><li>Your case theory must be consistent with you theme, the evidence, and the law. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Questions to Ask While Developing Theme <ul><li>Who is the “victim”? </li></ul><ul><li>Who is the “villain”? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the wrong to be righted? </li></ul><ul><li>What’s the injustice? </li></ul><ul><li>Why should the jury feel compelled to find for you? </li></ul>
  19. 19. Map the Case and Develop a Trial Plan <ul><li>Prepare a jury charge to help guide development of the theme and theory and to guide you in discovery. </li></ul>
  20. 20. Avoid the “Rabbit Trails” <ul><li>Avoid spending time in motion practice and in discovery on issues that have nothing to do with your theme or theory or the essential elements of your claims or defenses. </li></ul>
  21. 21. Always Keep an Eye Towards Closing <ul><li>Begin crafting your closing arguments before the start of discovery . </li></ul><ul><li>This practice will keep you focused on your ultimate goal. </li></ul>
  22. 22. Goals for Opening Statements <ul><li>Always remember: First impressions are crucial. </li></ul><ul><li>Use language that creates mental pictures. </li></ul><ul><li>Use key points/bullet points - people retain more this way. </li></ul><ul><li>If possible, let the jury see your best evidence. </li></ul><ul><li>Poison your opponent’s case. </li></ul>
  23. 23. Consider Various Media Formats to Maintain the Jury’s Interest Throughout Trial
  24. 24. Numerous Tools are Available to Present Your Case to the Jury <ul><li>Microsoft PowerPoint </li></ul><ul><li>Apple Keynote </li></ul><ul><li>Trial Presentation Software (Trial Max/Sanction) </li></ul><ul><li>Even a dry-erase marker and easel. </li></ul>
  25. 25. Avoid Monotony to Keep the Jury Interested <ul><li>The use of multiple forms of stimulus (especially in long trials with dry concepts) keeps the jury engaged. </li></ul>Critical points may be lost on the jury through a monotonous presentation.
  26. 26. Excerpts From Trial Transcripts Reinforce Key Testimony During Closing Arguments
  27. 27. Playboy Never had an Intent to Own Plaintiff’s Business “ So the phrase, if we own it, is not about owning the Mexican edition, but as you can see in the memo [Hef’s February 4, 1997 memo], owning a direct Spanish translation of the U.S. magazine. And indeed, as he says in this memo, and can count the circulation towards our own rate base. Well, that's not how the rate base rules work.” Trial Transcript, April 14, 2010 p. Page 104:1 – 6. EXAMPLE
  28. 28. Marco Sanchez Testified That He Never Saw a Written Approval for an Amount Higher than 39,950 <ul><li>Okay. And so you never saw any written approval of a number higher than 39,950, did you? </li></ul><ul><li>Right. </li></ul><ul><li>Trial Transcript, April 7, 2010 p. 39:25 – 40:2. </li></ul>EXAMPLE
  29. 29. Document Callouts Emphasize Key Points Within a Document <ul><li>Especially useful in cases arising from terms of a written instrument. </li></ul><ul><li>Point to language in correspondence and emails. </li></ul><ul><li>Useful tool while examining a witness. </li></ul><ul><li>Showing the document enhances your credibility with the jury. </li></ul>
  30. 30. Plaintiffs Understood that Plaintiffs’ Right to Export Could be Withdrawn EXAMPLE Paragraph 1.a.(ii) …Distribution and sale of the Foreign Edition in any country other than Mexico will be subject to Licensor’s … … prior written approval, which may be withdrawn once given , on notice from Licensor from Licensor as follows:
  32. 32. Video Deposition Clips <ul><li>Opportunity to relive critical testimony during closing arguments. </li></ul><ul><li>Be mindful of the critical sound bite that can work for or against you at trial. </li></ul>
  33. 33. The “Perry Mason” Moment EXAMPLE
  34. 34. Timelines Offer a Reference Point to Put Evidence and Testimony into Context 2006 2005 2004 2003 2007 2002 Plaintiff Decides to Sell the Ranch Feb. 8 – Closing Date for Sale of Ranch $8.1 Million Appraisal of Ranch by BOA 60 day Option
  35. 35. Demeanor During Trial <ul><li>To Object of Not to Object? </li></ul><ul><li>Bench Conferences: Do you risk turning off the jury? </li></ul><ul><li>The jury is always watching your interactions with the judge and opposing counsel. </li></ul><ul><li>Be mindful of the way that you address an adverse witness. </li></ul>
  36. 36. Cross Examination of the Expert Witness <ul><li>Be Prepared. </li></ul><ul><li>Be Flexible. </li></ul><ul><li>Be in Control. </li></ul><ul><li>Keep it Short. </li></ul><ul><li>Know the Facts. </li></ul><ul><li>Become Proficient in the Expert’s Area of Expertise. </li></ul>
  37. 37. Cross Examination of the Expert Witness <ul><li>Consider the Expert’s Financial Bias. </li></ul><ul><li>Anticipate Objections and Know the Rules of Evidence. </li></ul><ul><li>Speak in Plain English. </li></ul><ul><li>If the Expert Doesn’t Hurt You, You Don’t Have to Cross. </li></ul><ul><li>Be Familiar with the Judge. </li></ul><ul><li>Know when to Quit. </li></ul>
  38. 38. Additional Considerations for Closing Arguments <ul><li>Give the jury the tools. </li></ul><ul><li>Win a simple majority. </li></ul><ul><li>Use the Jury Charge. </li></ul>
  39. 39. Charge of the Court EXAMPLE
  40. 40. Charge of the Court EXAMPLE
  41. 41. QUESTION NO: 1A PLAINTIFFS’ CLAIMS: BREACH OF CONTRACT Did Playboy Enterprises, Inc. fail to comply with the License Agreement? Answer &quot;Yes&quot; or &quot;No&quot;: _________ NO EXAMPLE
  42. 42. QUESTION NO: 15 DEFENDANT’S CLAIMS: BREACH OF LICENSE AGREEMENT Did Editorial Caballero S.A. de C.V. and/or Grupo Siete International, Inc. fail to comply with the License Agreement? Answer &quot;Yes&quot; or &quot;No&quot; for each: Editorial Caballero S.A. de C.V. _________ Grupo Siete International, Inc. _________ EXAMPLE YES YES
  43. 43. QUESTION NO: 17 DEFENDANT’S CLAIMS: BREACH OF LICENSE AGREEMENT - DAMAGES What sum of money, if any, if paid now in cash, would fairly and reasonably compensate Playboy Enterprises, Inc. for its damages, if any, proximately caused by the failure of Editorial Caballero S.A. de C.V. and/or Grupo Siete International, Inc. to comply with the License Agreement found by you in response to Question No. 15? Answer in dollars and cents for damages if any: $____________________ 460,146.08 EXAMPLE