Category: Evidence and Trial Articles

Courtroom examination

Direct Examination: A Conversation, Not An Interrogation

By Hon. Mark T. Cumba. A twelve-by-twelve foot room.  A metal table, bolted to the floor. Cigarette smoke wafting upwards towards a single, dimly lit overhead lamp hanging from the ceiling.  This is the image many of us recall from old, black and white detective shows. “Where were you on the night of the shooting?” […]

The Development of a Trial Theme & Theory

By Lilys D. McCoy. Introduction Much has been written about the importance of selecting and advancing a theme at trial. But while theme is important, it is distinct from, and subordinate to, the theory of the case. You may be thinking, “wait, aren’t theme and theory essentially the same thing . . . two interchangeable […]

Four Easy Questions: Basic Foundation for the Admission of Evidence

By Lilys D. McCoy. One of the most critical trial advocacy skills is the ability to lay proper foundation for the admission of evidence. While important, it is often, and surprisingly, overlooked until the moment it is most needed. Standing in the courtroom and hearing the judge sustain a “lacks foundation” objection is stressful if […]

courtroom gavel

Five Ways to Complicate Character Evidence

By Lilys D. McCoy. Introduction The topic of character evidence is notoriously difficult. Law students struggle with it, bar takers dread it, and practitioners handle it with mixed results. At first, the basic concept underlying the rules of character evidence seems to make sense: do not use evidence of a character trait to prove that […]

Witness testifying

How to Avoid That “One Question Too Many” on Cross-Examination Using Storytelling Principles – A Look at Andrew Stanton’s TED Talk

By Lilys D. McCoy. You’ve heard it many times before, perhaps from a law school professor or from a seasoned trial attorney at a continuing legal education seminar: “When it comes to cross examination, one of the most important things to know is when to sit down. Don’t ask the  question that is one-question-too-many!” Those […]

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