As you’ve likely heard, there’s a Southern governor on trial for public corruption.
Shockingly, he’s not from Louisiana.
Former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen are on trial for, in essence, taking gifts from a guy named Johnnie Williams in exchange for doing things in the governor’s mansion (there are also some bank fraud charges and obstruction charges, but frankly, in comparison to the public corruption stuff the bank fraud is terribly dreary). After five weeks of trial and testimony, the case just went to the jury.
There has been a lot of commentary on the McDonnell trial (see, e.g., here, here, here, and here). One thing that hasn’t been talked about during the trial much: the defense severance motion that was denied at the very start.
And, as the trial has continued, that motion looks more and more important in hindsight….
I didn’t know what Prezi was at the beginning of the year. I first heard about it at LegalTech New York in February. Since then, I’ve seen it all over the place and heard of lawyers using it in trial. I have since used it a couple of times, so I am going to explain the benefits and the drawbacks and how to use it effectively.
What Is Prezi?
When you start a Prezi presentation, you begin with a big blank slate. You place pictures and text boxes on your blank slate and pan and zoom into them. Instead of going from slide to slide, you pan from focal point to focal point on your big canvas. The cool part about it is the zooming. You can zoom way into something. So, say you are doing a case about blood clotting and you want to show what it looks like on a cellular level, you would do it like this:
That pesky expert witness is claiming that a AAA battery can’t injure your client as much as you claim. How do you undermine his testimony? Confronting him with strongly-worded questions informed by careful scientific research is one way.
Trying to electrocute him is another way.
Guess which one the lawyer chose in this case?
Oh, Watt the hell, I’ll spoil it, the lawyer tried to electrocute him….
A jury trial: “the grand bulwark of our liberties.” Cross-examination: “the greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth.” I remember these quotes (from Blackstone and Wigmore, respectively) uttered grandly during Evidence or some such class in law school.
Just guessing these maxims aren’t entirely reflective of everyone’s experience. A particularly discouraging example, after the jump….
Ed. note: This is the latest column by our newest writer, Anonymous Partner. In case you missed his prior posts, they are collected here.
I want to a be a Biglaw trial lawyer. If you could care less about trial work, but are in Biglaw, feel free to substitute whatever word you want for the word “trial” in the previous sentence — M&A, IPO, appellate, etc.
Why trial work, other than it seems like a good way to put my lack of nervousness when speaking publicly to productive use? Because I have always enjoyed days spent in court, and no matter how much fun it can be to take a contentious deposition or argue a motion, there is simply nothing like the atmosphere, teamwork, and total focus that a trial commands. Toss in the ability to avoid unpleasant obligations by saying “I am prepping for trial,” and the chance for a long vacation afterwards, and you get a great deal Biglaw-wise.
Since Biglaw is not the ideal training ground for trial work, I realize that I need to very flexible and patient if I realistically hope to have a trial practice down the road. In the meantime, I will continue looking for opportunities to work on trials, and I am willing to do some unorthodox things to accelerate my current pace of one trial every five years.
Thomas Gooch III strikes me as the kind of man who, upon finding himself in a hole, starts screaming for somebody to throw him down a shovel.
You’ll remember Gooch as the guy who filed a motion objecting to a woman seated at opposing counsel’s table. Well, more specifically, he objected to the breasts of a woman at opposing counsel’s table.
It was a spurious claim from the start; Gooch didn’t know anything about the woman, but because she had large boobs, Gooch felt like he could question her qualifications without any evidence whatsoever. But Gooch was really put in his place when opposing counsel, Dmitry Feofanov, revealed the the allegedly offensive breasts belonged to his wife, Daniella Atencia.
Well, Gooch has dropped his motion. And the judge in the case (remember, there was a real trial going on here before the Gooch started mentally motorboating opposing counsel’s wife) admonished him. And this could all be over with now.
I really, really hope that somewhere out there, Thomas W. Gooch III feels like a giant tool. A few days ago, Gooch, of the law firm Gauthier & Gooch, wrote a motion objecting to a “large breasted woman” sitting at opposing counsel’s table. He questioned the woman’s qualifications and accused opposing counsel, Dmitry Feofanov, of planting her there to distract the jury.
“Personally, I like large breasts,” Gooch said. “However, I object to somebody I don’t think is a qualified paralegal sitting at the counsel table — when there’s already two lawyers there — dressed in such a fashion as to call attention to herself.”
Well, it turns out that Gooch has been ogling, scrutinizing, and questioning the qualifications of Feofanov’s wife.
Dude… not cool.
Feofanov has furnished us with a statement, accompanied by a tasteful picture of his allegedly offensively-figured wife…
Well, there’s really nothing else to talk about this morning. Jezebel reports that a defense attorney has written a motion objecting to the people seated at the plaintiff’s table. Well, one person in particular — a “large breasted woman” who is seated next to plaintiff’s counsel.
Is there a law against having large-breasted women hang out with you? Of course not; this is America!
But since this motion is one of the most sexist things you are likely to come across, let’s give it a closer look…
* The epic insider trading trial of Raj Rajaratnam got underway today. Bess Levin, of our sister site Dealbreaker, comes up with a (rather hilarious and bizarre) list of possible character witnesses for Raj. [Dealbreaker]
* Speaking of the Rajaratnam trial, who were those mystery men observing the proceedings in the courtroom? [Clusterstock]
* Talk about a benchslap: “Mr. Redlich continues to display an apparent disregard for the time and resources that this court must expend in interpreting his poorly-drafted pleadings and analyzing his sloppily-constructed and thinly-researched memoranda.” [Albany Times-Union]
* Four important lessons, for lawyers and technologists, that can be drawn from Michelangelo’s sculpting of The David. [Ben Kerschberg / Forbes]
* Musical chairs: Sean Patrick Maloney — former aide to Governor Paterson, Governor Spitzer, and President Clinton, and a former candidate for New York Attorney General — joins Orrick from Kirkland. [Orrick (press release)]
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