Preparing for Trial
In divorce AKA dissolution, as well as child custody and support cases, some matters are resolved agreement between the parties and some go to trial where. court decides the issues. Trial can be a risk because a Judge knows very little about your family and life. If you do go to trial, there are several steps to prepare.
Initial Steps. Litigation preparation begins with determining what evidence to present and how to present it. Opening arguments are not common in domestic relations practice, however closing arguments summarizing the case presented are common and important. Trial is a stressful time for clients. Trial decisions will have to be made by both the attorney and the client. There are a number of considerations in trial preparation. Fundamental steps are:
- Fact evaluation
- Legal issue identification
- Identification of applicable law
- Determination of desired outcomes
- Evidence identification
- Witness identification
- Exhibit identification and designation
Facts and law. Domestic relations trials are often short and it is essential to identify the legal issues of importance to the court and focus presentation on those. It is important to stay focused on presenting evidence of importance to the court. The theme or theory of the case will guide evidence selection and presentation. The legal standards and elements must always be kept in mind. Preparation of the Joint Trial management Certificate will also help focus the case and develop an understanding of the contested issues.
Evidence. Next it is important to identify what evidence is necessary to prove the case. Evidence is governed by the Colorado Rules of Evidence. The presentation of evidence should always take into consideration the theme of your case. Each piece of evidence should support the theme in a logical order. Hearings and trials are short in many jurisdictions so evidence selection must be made carefully and focused on the priority legal issues.
Three common types of evidence are demonstrative, documentary and testimonial. One kind of evidence is demonstrative evidence. It consists of items such as pictures, videos, diagrams, charts, etc. It must be presented through testimony that explains what it is and where and how it was obtained. Another type of evidence is documentary evidence. This evidence consists of documents. This could be text messages or e-mails or agreements of the parties, for example. A third type of evidence is testimonial evidence. This evidence is presented through party and witness testimony.
All evidence presented must be relevant and material. Witnesses should be carefully selected in light of the legal standards of relevance to the court. A determination of how the court may perceive the witness is important. For example, a court may not place significant weight upon witness testimony from a family member or close friend as it might be inherently biased. However, sometimes such close associates may have valuable collaborative information that no one else has.
Testimonial evidence is submitted through witnesses. It is important to assess what information a witness can provide and how credible a witness may be. Witnesses should be subpoenaed to attend trial. If a witness does not then appear, counsel may be permitted to make a proffer as to the evidence to which the witness would have been expected to testify.
Preparing a client to testify is another important step. Essentially, there is one bite at the apple so it is important to present to the court in the best light. It is important to practice a direct examination. To the extent that cross examination can be anticipated, practice cross-examination questions should be asked. It is important to present a positive appearance in the courtroom as the court observes the client's demeanor. Inappropriate emotional reactions such as eye rolling and outbursts should be avoided and self-control is important. It is also important to dress appropriately for the occasion.Turning Change Into Opportunity in Colorado Springs
A knowledgeable and experienced divorce and family law attorney can guide you through Colorado Springs divorce and family law matters by negotiating, mediating and litigating. This allows you to focus on to a better future. Divorce and family law matters are difficult to navigate alone.
Sabra Janko from Janko Family Law is a knowledgeable and experienced attorney who protects your best interests and ensures that you are aware of your legal rights and obligations. Contact us at 719-344-5523 for a free 30-minute informational consultation or complete our online form.