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Seton Hall Unversity School of Law
McLaughlin, Denis F.

FRE not adopted by all states. Its concise and non-technical wording makes it highly useful.
Trial Practice
Jury Selection
                                                              i.      Jury intro
                                                            ii.      Voir dire: Dismiss some jurors who should not be ruling on the case and exclude by cause if they have any relations or prejudice to the parties.
                                                          iii.      Each side has 3 peremptory challenges which can exclude a juror for any reason at all except racial consideration.
Opening statements: Plaintiff in civil cases has the burden of persuasion and usually goes first.
                                                              i.      Not entirely argument, usually a framework and summation of facts into which evidence will enter.
                                                            ii.      Allegations that will be supported by evidence.
Presentation of Proof
                                                              i.      Party with burden of proof goes first.
                                                            ii.      Case in chief presents main evidence, case in rebuttal voids adversary’s proof.
                                                          iii.      Case in chief must establish all elements to prove case.
1.      Direct examination of witnesses.
2.      Demonstrative evidence: Tangible evidence which bears proof of the party’s case.
1.      Real and original items.
2.      Documentary
                                                          iv.      Case in rebuttal
1.      Cross examination of witnesses.
1.      Limited by scope of direct.
2.      Calling party may redirect after cross.
Trial motions
                                                              i.      SJ: A reasonable juror could not find for the non-moving party.
Closing Argument
                                                              i.      Party with burden opens first and closes first and last.
                                                              i.      Given by judge to the jury to help isolate and clarify the law and proof required.
                                                            ii.      Parties submit proposed instructions prior to the close of evidence.
                                                          iii.      Can exclude certain evidence via curative instructions.
                                                          iv.      Can limit evidence to a narrow scope via limiting instructions.
                                                            v.      Jury is told what inferences it can draw from the evidence and/or what prior points must be diecided before considering the evidence.
Verdict, post trial motions, appellate review.
The record
                                                              i.      Complaint, answer, 3rd party claims, counterclaims, cross-claims, indictments, pleas
Filed documents
                                                              i.      Motions and briefs.
                                                            ii.      Judgments – Filed and used for res judicata and collateral estoppel.
Record of proceedings
Docket entries
                                                              i.      Filings and rulings log.
Do not..
                                                              i.      Swell the record by echoing witness answers before asking the next question.
                                                            ii.      Overlap, interruptions by different parties creating an unusable record.
                                                          iii.      Leave ambiguous numbers, names and big words.
                                                          iv.      Reference all real, tangible evidence by the exhibit number.
                                                            v.      Describe for the record all pantomimed or gestured referrals by the witness.
                                                          vi.      Off the record: All parties must agree to go off the record.
                                                        vii.      Side bar conferences should be held in chambers or excuse the jury.
Admission and Exclusion
Admission – Foundation and offer
                                                              i.      Testimonial Proof – Direct
1.      Background information
2.      Lay foundation for the testimony to follow
3.      Substantive questions about the relevant facts. Cannot be non-leading (FRE 611c).
1.      Cannot be suggestive of an answer.
                                                            ii.      Testimonial Proof – Cross
1.      Witness answers to confirm ideas panted by counsel in the question.
2.      Leading questions are beneficial to limit the scope of the cross.
1.      Invoke the conscience of the witness to recount a more accurate version of the events.
2.      Expose inaccuracies.
3.      Focus the scope of the answer to specific details.
3.      Scope of direct rule
1.      Cross questioning is limited to matters brought in direct.
Class 1 8/21/06
                                                              i.      Advisory committee à Judicial Conference à US SC à Congress à FRE
                                                            ii.      Rule 607: Who may impeach
1.      Federal judicial tweak followed by advisory committee’s notes.
                                                          iii.      Rule 611: Mode and order of interrogation and presentation.
1.      (a) Control
2.      (b) Scope of cross
1.      Advisory com

1.      Factual findings
2.      Discretionary rulings
3.      Legal rulings
Class 2 8/23/06
Appeals: Arguing for error on appeal. Pg 43, 45
Was error preserved for appeal?
                                                              i.      Rule 103a; plain error exception 103d.
                                                            ii.      Pages 46,47 Procedural pitfalls and adversarial gambits (will be on exam).
                                                          iii.      The importance of objecting in the lower action. Offer of proof.
                                                          iv.      Particular ground objection preserves error only on those grounds.
1.      Objection on one point is the only one preserved for the record, other grounds not preserved, may win on appeal only if it was plain error.
                                                            v.      Is the movement to affirm the judgment or reverse, the policy is to affirm. If the winner submits wrong grounds for objection in the lower action, correct ground cannot be argued for reversal by the loser, but can be offered by the court to affirm the ruling.
Assuming error objection preserved, does action below constitute error? – 3 standards of review.
                                                              i.      Jury Fact finding – “Clearly erroneous”
                                                            ii.      Discretionary – Abuse of discretion, used when rules give the judge discretion.
1.      Applied incorrect law. Judge incorrectly applies the rule or the law.
2.      Choice unreasonable although the Judge applied the correct law. Cannot overturn if it is questionable, must be only one outcome to overturn lower action.
                                                          iii.      Legal Ruling – The Judge instructing the jury. “De Novo”, No deference to trial court
If error exists.
                                                              i.      Reversible / prejudicial – Affected outcome OR
                                                            ii.      Harmless Error
Relevancy Rules 401-403
Rule 401 – ANY TENDANCY goes to relevancy although it may not be sufficient to sustain the burden of proof.