4. Tech checklist
Most judges and juries expect at least
some technology: of course, some
more than others. Here is where you
must customize the checklist for
each courtroom. Some have Internet,
whereas at others you will need your
“air card.” Some courtrooms have
large-screen TVs that you can wire
into, while in others you will need to
bring your own projector and screen.
For those of us who practice in different courthouses, a quick phone call to
the court when putting the checklist
in order is necessary. The courthouse
staff wants things to go smoothly and
tend to be very helpful.
However, it can’t stop there; you
(not your staff!) must do a dry run on
all technology 24 hours before you
need it. For example, if you are going
to show a video on the Thursday of a
week-long trial, it means you will need
to stay after on Wednesday and go
through the technological steps just
as if the 12 folks were sitting in their
chairs in the box.
5. Protein and mints
Trial is intense — all your senses are
in overdrive for much of the time. Everything is “cranked up a notch.” You
burn calories, your mouth dries out,
you need to whisper to your client. All
this equates to: have a “snack pack”
with you at the table. Carbs make
you sleepy. Sugars make you spike.
You need protein and liquids, and of
course, the mints.
A “tab” in the notebook with copies
of all the subpoenas is needed. Not a
big showy tab, just where you can go
to find who was told to be there, and be
able to show the Court if necessary.
7. Exhibit list
Sure, your exhibits have their own
binder, but you need a list in the trial
notebook with a spreadsheet similar to
the one for your jury selection tab. You
may not always use every exhibit you
bring to trial, but you need to be sure
that you actually use some of them.
Further, sometimes the flow of the trial
doesn’t go the way you planned, and
exhibits aren’t always admitted in the
order you think they will be. You must
have a place to keep track of where
your numbers or letters are the same
as the clerk’s.
An 8"x 10" photo version of your exhibits should also be in the trial notebook. First, it gives you a spare for the
proverbial “just in case.” Second, it
gives you an organized place that is
not off to the side, or behind the witness stand, or wherever the four-foot-tall plastic spine ended up.
9. Bulleted elements
A one-page, large-font bulleted list of
the elements (prosecutors point out
all of them, including “in the State of
Washington”) is necessary. It is not a
bad idea to put in some notes to yourself regarding all of the elements.
Further, it’s not a bad idea to put down
in sub-bullets (on a different page, of
course) about how you are going to
prove each element.
10. Witness list
Somewhere near the subpoenas, but
on its own, you can keep the witness
lists. You can have two lists, “theirs”
and “ours.” Alternatively, you can have
one list with delineations. Either way,
it is helpful to just have a simple list of
names with who the jury is going to be
The key to good trial preparation is
organization. I hope these top 10 items
will make the trial you plan, the one
you have, and the one you remember
be equally successful. NWL
Idaho and is
a member of
the law firm of
& Weeks. He
College in Worcester, MA, and
received a master’s in education
from the University of Missouri.
He earned his J. D. from Western
New England College School of
Law. He is a member of the WSBA
Editorial Advisory Committee.
Contact him at dpierce@jvwlaw.
net if you have an idea for
N WLawyer’s Top 10.
There is an old adage
about jury trials, that
is, a jury trial is really
three trials: The one
you plan, the one you
have, and the one you