Friday, May 19, 2006

The Trial.

It’s over.

We’ll hopefully find out something about the results in the next week or so. Final results won’t be learned for 6-9 months.

In celebration, this is the shirt I picked to wear today at work. My friend Chris saw it in NY and knew I’d love it. He was right. I love it. (long, boring trial babble below pictures)

Day One, May 17, 2006.

I am at the office by 7:00, the trial is set to begin at 9:00. E, the co-worker who is working with me on this trial was supposed to arrive at 8:00. At 8:20 I started getting seriously stressed out and tried calling one of the partners. E arrived and our cab took forever and ever to crawl through downtown. Our client was already there and we didn’t really have time to do much of what we needed to do before it began.

While the division of labor between E and I was pretty much equal, I was front-loaded: opening statement, cross-examination of three witnesses, and direct examination of our first fact witness. E was end-loaded: he had to cross-examine one opposing witness, direct examine two significant fact witnesses, including our client, and the closing argument.

To my surprise, I think I did a pretty good job. My opening went smoothly and I felt pretty comfortable cross examining witnesses. I got nearly all of the admissions I wanted from them. The witness that I presented was great and his testimony went very smoothly. The character witnesses weren’t a big deal, either. We finished for the day with only the client’s testimony and closing argument continued for the next morning. I was done.

We returned back to the office to give the report to the higher-ups. Our boss analogized our first trial to how great it was when we "got our first piece." Very PC. Wanting to remind him that I am not a guy, I quipped back, "You’re right! It was uncomfortable and painful."

When I finally walked into my office, there was a big box on my desk – an order from REI!! There is a bikepacking trip scheduled for the weekend, so I ordered a tent....and then in a rash of spending also got another messenger bag, a biking hoodie, a new seatpost bag, a new helmet and another pair of travel pants. Everything was great, except for the horrible travel pants. It was like Christmas for me!

Then I went out to Happy Hour with several of my law school friends to celebrate, while E practiced his direct examination and closing argument into the wee hours of the night. I got home around 10:00pm, completely wired. Chris agree to go for a walk with me so that I could burn off my excess energy. For two hours we traipsed around the neighborhood.
Day Two, May 18, 2006.

The second day of trial began better than the first. We weren’t really running late and, since I was done, had no reason to be worried.

E wasn’t on his game. He forgot to question our client about several key points that were brought up in opposing counsel’s closing. E’s closing divulged into a rambling, babbling mess. It was painful to hear. I just had to sit there as he went off on tangents and didn’t clearly describe our position. I hope it wasn’t as bad as it sounded to me, but instead of bringing out the strengths of our case, he dwelt on the weaker points. He should have hammered the opposing counsel’s case by sticking with our argument, but instead confused our argument. I really hope I am wrong.

This was completely unexpected, because E speaks in court a lot, and acted completely comfortable leading up to trial. He actually was excited and thought it would be 'fun.' I was totally paranoid about screwing up and was feeling physically sick from stress and nervousness. My response was to prepare and practice and revise and practice some more. I knew my stuff, so my nervousness basically disappeared once the trial got rolling. I think E was probably overconfident, and didn't prepare as much as he could have. So the exact opposite of what we both expected happened at trial: he cracked and I didn't.

After the case closed, the Chair of the Hearing Panel offered to speak with all counsel about technique and method. He wanted both sides to object more and it became obvious that the rules of evidence is one of his pet issues. The advice he gave was good and constructive. He referenced my "attempt" to impeach a witness. Crap – I thought I actually did impeach him! Guess not. He told us and the opposing counsel that we spoke far too fast, and sometimes mumbled, so that panel couldn’t hear what we said. Then he corrected himself and complimented me. I was told that I have great courtroom presence; that they could hear every word I said because my articulation and pronunciation were perfect and my command of the English language was excellent. E was miffed that I received the only compliment.

When we reported this back to my boss, he puffed up to declare again that it was further evidence that I am a born litigator. He is shocked that after doing this trial I still want to get out of litigation. I’m sure he is disappointed that he hasn’t been able to make me fall in love with litigating. We then spoke about my job search and he is writing a letter of recommendation for me.

I went out with friends at the Hbar, expecting to celebrate the end of trial all night long. Instead, by 9:00 I was damned tired. I was in bed shortly after 10:00pm, and I slept like the dead until 6:00am, when Blackie started walking all over my face.


At 6:08 AM, Blogger George said...

Hell yeah!

I'm not surprised you did well in court.

It's fairly obvious from your writing that you are intelligent:-)

By the way, that's a seriously cool shirt.


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