Trial Program

September - October, 2019
$350 (private practice attorneys)    $300 (public/non-profit attorneys)
20 MCLE credits

Learn and practice the core elements of a jury trial in an actual courtroom.

The Trial Program teaches each element of the jury trial in a series of lectures and demonstrations, and then provides attorneys the opportunity to practice those skills in an actual courtroom with experienced local judges and lawyers coaching and mentoring them.

Students who complete the College of Trial Advocacy will be in a much better position to try their own cases in either a first or second chair capacity. The cost of the program is among the lowest in the country for the caliber of the training received.

San Diego Inn of Court Workshop practice
Courtroom Demo

Watch demonstrations from experienced trial attorneys and judges. Hone your skills in small workshops with immediate feedback.

The Trial Program takes place on 8 evenings over 4 consecutive weeks. It includes four lectures by prominent San Diego trial attorneys and members of the judiciary, and four “hands on” workshops facilitated by experienced workshop leaders and local judges. The format is a Thursday lecture followed by a Tuesday workshop.

Each week, a team of lecturers explains and demonstrates the mechanics of trial from jury selection to closing arguments and every step in between. The Trial Practice Program explores every part of a jury trial including Motions in Limine, Jury Selection, Opening Statement, Direct and Cross Examination and Closing Argument.

Before the workshops, each student is paired with another student, one representing the plaintiff and the other the defendant. Participants are then assigned one of four original case files drafted specifically for the College of Trial Advocacy. A maximum of six students are assigned to each of 18 courtrooms, with each pair having one hour to practice what they learned in the lecture/demonstration.

2019 Trial Program Schedule

Part I: Voir Dire & Ethics

Lecture

Workshop Thursday, September 19, 2019
Check-In: 5:00 p.m.
Lecture: 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

James M. Carter and Judith N. Keep
United States Courthouse, Jury Assembly Room
333 West Broadway, San Diego

Workshop

Tuesday, September 24, 2019
Check-In: 5:00 p.m. for Courtroom Assignment
Workshop: 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

San Diego Superior Court
Central Courthouse
1100 Union Street, San Diego

The Trial Program begins on a Thursday night with a discussion of civility and courtroom decorum by members of the bench and bar. Where do you stand? How do you address the court? How do you relate to the jury? These and many more questions will be answered in a lively discussion that will qualify for ethics MCLE credit.

At the conclusion of the courtroom decorum portion on the first night of the College, students are then taught best practices for voir dire, including a discussion of how to prepare for jury selection, identify ideal jurors, develop questions, and sort out which questions are permissible and which are impermissible. The instructors will also discuss strategies for making challenges for cause and exercising peremptory strikes. After the instruction portion, local trial advocacy experts will demonstrate voir dire and take questions from the audience.

The first workshop will be on the Tuesday following the instruction and demonstration. Using what they learned from the instructors and demonstrators during the previous week, students practice conducting voir dire in an actual courtroom. Students will be given real-time feedback that will help them improve their voir dire technique.

Following the voir dire workshop, participants in the College will assemble again to hear from Judge Robert Trentacosta as he teaches his method for structuring a persuasive opening statement, including the crafting of a theme, developing the theory of the case, and introducing the testimony and exhibits expected to be received into evidence. Outstanding local attorneys then demonstrate a plaintiff’s and a defendant’s opening statement.

Part II: Opening Statement

Lecture

Thursday, September 26, 2019
5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

James M. Carter and Judith N. Keep
United States Courthouse, Jury Assembly Room
333 West Broadway, San Diego

Workshop

Tuesday, October 1, 2019
5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

San Diego Superior Court
Central Courthouse
1100 Union Street, San Diego

The second workshop will then allow the students to practice delivering their own opening statements. Again, experienced trial attorneys and judges will coach the students on how to improve both the structure and delivery of their opening statements.

Part III: Direct and Cross-Examination

Lecture

Thursday, October 3, 2019
5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m

James M. Carter and Judith N. Keep
United States Courthouse, Jury Assembly Room
333 West Broadway, San Diego

Workshop

Tuesday, October 8, 2019
5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

San Diego Superior Court
Central Courthouse
1100 Union Street, San Diego

The third night of instruction and demonstration covers direct and cross examination. Participating attorneys will learn how to tell the story that supports their theme and theory through the question-and answer format required by the rules of evidence. The instructors will also provide tips for crafting compelling and memorable examinations, entering evidence, impeaching opposing witnesses, and rehabilitating witnesses.

In the week following the demonstrations, students will be given the opportunity to workshop their own direct and cross examinations with opportunities to improve in real time through the expert instruction of the judges and lawyers leading the workshops.

Part IV: Closing Argument

Lecture

Thursday, October 10, 2019
Lecture: 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

James M. Carter and Judith N. Keep
United States Courthouse, Jury Assembly Room
333 West Broadway, San Diego

Workshop

Tuesday, October 15, 2019
5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

San Diego Superior Court
Central Courthouse
1100 Union Street, San Diego

The final classroom portion of the College will consist of trial lawyers and judges teaching best practices for drafting and delivering persuasive closing arguments. Demonstrations of actual closing arguments will be presented and students will be permitted to ask questions. A final workshop session will give participants the opportunity to practice closing argument and receive feedback on how to improve both substance and delivery.

Nicholas J Moore

“The San Diego Inn of Court program fundamentally changed the way I tried cases. The experience of listening to Superior Court Judges comparing and contrasting courtroom techniques, and the opportunity to practice proper techniques with veteran trial lawyers gave me the clarity and confidence I needed to become a better advocate.”

Nicholas J. Moore, Esq.

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