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Preparation for Trial, Parts I, II and III

NCJ Number
A Connelly; D Webb; G Nash
Date Published
0 pages
Trial attorneys should maintain organized, meticulous records of all case materials. These will be helpful when corroborating evidence, preparing witnesses, and in other trial procedures.
Trial attorneys must be on top of all details to assure their credibility and professional competence. Having organized records is the only means of accessing pertinent documents and information at a moment's notice. There should be no loose papers; the case file should be logically organized and maintained up to date on all transactions, including verbal ones. The trial book should begin with a detailed statement of the facts of the case. This will provide an overview of the issues, point out problem areas, and constitute the substance of both the opening and closing statements. Special care must be taken to cross-index witness and exhibit lists and present all evidence in complex litigation cases. The lawyer must obtain documentation of all potentially significant details, supplement agents' reports with corroborative information, obtain fingerprint and handwriting exemplars ahead of time, and research relevant case references. Agents' and secretaries' organizational skills must be honed to assist these endeavors. Cases likely to end in plea bargaining should be identified before case preparation progresses too far. Witness preparation can take many meetings and should include mock cross-examination; materials for refreshing recollection must be ready. While it is not improper to talk to a witness before trial, it should not be done once cross-examination begins. The prosecuting attorney should keep checklists of all points at which a defendant's rights must be indicated by the court to prevent subsequent appeal on an improper verdict. Speakers are three trial attorneys.