The Art of the Trial: Direct Examination

Trial attorneys are storytellers. We win or lose based on our ability to weave key facts together into a persuasive narrative for the factfinder. That story, bolstered by evidence and delivered in a compelling way, convinces a jury to agree with our client. Although a rousing opening statement and forceful closing argument bookmark a case, what counts most is the narrative we craft throughout the trial, chapter by chapter, through the direct e examination of witnesses.

The Harmony of Witness Selection

My strategy for direct examination begins long before the witness takes the stand. My witnesses are my client’s surrogates, charged first and foremost with telling the truth, and I choose them with care. Whenever possible, I identify trial witnesses before discovery begins and with with my witness through depositions and thereafter.

Every piece of evidence I need for my closing comes from direct examination, so each witness has to have a purpose and the jury needs to understand it. I never want a jury to think, after my direct examination, “What was that about?” or “Why did I have to listen to that person testify?”

To that end, my witnesses have to have two qualities: Te first is an ability to “write” a chapter in my client’s case that is begin revealed to the jury. The second quality is a bit more elusive. It’s chemistry. What makes a particular witness uniquely suited to tell the story? What are their strengths and weaknesses as a storyteller? Can he or she connect with a jury?  Sometimes it’s readily apparent. but not always.

Read the full article in the Daily Journal.

Alec Baldwin Art Case Moves Forward

Mr. Baldwin contacted Ms. Boone when he was seeking to purchase an original painting by noted contemporary artist Ross Bleckner, but instead of the promised painting, the suit alleges, Boone delivered a counterfeit that she had fraudulently stamped with the gallery number from the original, for the purpose of deceiving him. Furthermore, when Mr. Baldwin asked about the painting’s odor, Ms. Boone lulled his suspicions by falsely telling him she had it “cleaned,” prior to delivery “as a courtesy,” since the previous owner was a “heavy smoker.”

Ms. Boone had sought to dismiss the fraud claims on the grounds that Mr. Baldwin filed suit against the gallery after the statute of limitations had expired. Justice Robert Reed, however, found the alleged acts to intentionally deceive Mr. Baldwin had effectively stopped the clock. The survival of the fraud claim means he can also seek punitive damages against the art gallery owner, the judge said.

“We look forward to proceeding to trial, where a jury will have the chance to judge Ms. Boone’s egregious fraud,” said Steven Feldman, who argued against Ms. Boone’s motion to dismiss in New York Supreme Court.

Representing Mr. Baldwin are: John Hueston, Moez Kaba, Steven Feldman and Daniel Vinson

Read more in Law360

SanDag Hires “Pit Bull with Pedigree” for Investigation

The board of directors of the San Diego Association of Governments has hired Hueston Hennigan to conduct an independent examination of a faulty revenue forecast for last fall’s Measure A.

The board earlier this year called for an outside investigation of who knew what, and when, regarding the projection of how much money a half-cent sales tax hike would raise.

The measure was backed by a majority of residents in November, but failed to capture the two-thirds necessary for passage.

Documents obtained by the online publication Voice of San Diego indicated that staff members discovered a modeling error that overstated the likely proceeds but didn’t change the projection or alert board members.

A trio of SANDAG directors – Poway Mayor Steve Vaus, San Diego City Council President Myrtle Cole and Del Mar Mayor Terry Sinnott – recommended the hiring of the law firm Hueston Hennigan LLP to conduct the investigation at a cost of $125,000. Their proposal was approved by the board, which is made up of elected officials from around the region.

“We wanted a pit bull to make sure that every stone is looked under, that we leave nothing to question so that the public can know we investigated things thoroughly and completely,” Vaus said. “My view – everything is on the table.”

From the Times of San Diego

Variety Names Rob Klieger in 2017 Legal Impact Report

Partner Rob Klieger is featured in the Variety 2017 Legal Impact Report, an annual listing of the world’s top entertainment attorneys.

In the special report, Mr. Klieger anticipates that augmented reality, the technology that superimposes digital images over users’ view of the real world, will shake up the legal industry “across every area of law.”