We’ve focused on the importance of THEME today. Every question you ask, every statement you make at trial must have one purpose: Advancing your theme. And never detracting from it. I do think that I did well with the content and organization of my direct examination. I tried to weed out everything extraneous and get down to brass tacks. My outline consisted of the three points I needed to make, and I made them. I just wish that once I got the feedback, I had an opportunity to try again, so that I could put those comments into practice.
This time I DID prepare. I even volunteered to go first. I was sure I was going to nail it. Well, I didn’t. I didn’t do poorly, but I had trouble controlling my witness, and a few stylistic problems. A lot of the feedback from instructors dealt with very specific word choices, and its hard to make those very specific, fine decisions when you are also specifically trying to question the witness from only a basic outline (instead of reading questions).
There are two components of trial preparation that we do not have the benefit of, and which make trial college challenging: (1) by the time a case gets to trial, you already have all the facts down cold, because you’ve been working on it for so dang long, and (2) you have more opportunity to practice and practice and practice the components of trial and get feedback on them. The second issue could be remedied in this setting, with keeping a quick pace to instructor feedback, and having the participants each perform examinations of the same witness before the class multiple times. The first one, I guess, would have been addressed if I read and read and read and read the course packet before getting to the CLE, but seeing as (like with most young lawyers) I was spending my time doing work before I got here, it didn’t leave any time to prepare for a CLE. So that’s that.
Terence MacCarthy gave an amazing talk on cross-examination today. His talk is everything a talk should be– he was hilarious, engaging, knowledgeable and challenging. I spend all day reading law, so I don’t usually read law books for fun, but now I absolutely have to read his book on cross examination.
Dinner conversation eased to a halt several times tonight. It wasn’t an awkward halt or an unfriendly halt, just a darn tired halt. I miss my family, but I am also loving having grown up time. I’m about to go downstairs and work out. Then tonight I’m going to read in bed, and probably fall asleep with all the lights on because that’s how I do.