Today’s headline in the local newspaper is “Jury awards $3.7M to estate of Munchbar shooting victim.” The newspaper account describes how a jury awarded the estate of the deceased $3.5 million with the tavern being held responsible for 75% and other participants in a fight leading up to the shooting being responsible for the remaining 25%. The shooter was prosecuted and pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.
For a prosecutors and defense attorneys, one of the first murder cases that they may well handle will stem from a shooting in a tavern on a Saturday night. It’s part of what you do in your career as a pretrial litigator and a trial lawyer in the criminal justice field. In civil practice, wrongful death suits growing out of the same shooting are not unusual.
Because tavern shootings are common, high profile and involve a variety of legal and factual issues as well as a wide spectrum of witnesses, they are ideal for learning pretrial and trial advocacy skills through experiential learning in law school, prosecutor and defense counsel training sessions and civil professional development seminars. This is why we chose the shooting-in-a-tavern-on-a-Saturday-night case for our Pretrial Advocacy and Trial Advocacy books. Both books have this Advocacy website where trial lawyers and law students can access complete case files and role-play assignments. The Professors and CLE instructors who adopt a book are provided with not only a Teacher’s Manual but also an Actor’s Guide containing instructions for those who will perform the roles of witnesses.
The robust materials can be used for professional development continuing legal education and law school performance in class and mock trials. The tavern shooting scenarios are always challenging and an enjoyable learning experience.