Maintain Your Credibility

No matter how much you stress certain principles of pretrial practice in a law school pretrial advocacy class, the lessons don’t stick the way seeing them come live in a courtroom does. Students in my semester-long Comprehensive Pretrial Advocacy course go to court, watch a motion calendar and write a report about what they saw and learned. The students select from federal, state or municipal court, and they can choose either a civil or criminal calendar.

Here is a student’s report about maintaining credibility with the court and how to do it. The name of the judge is changed, but otherwise this is the true account. The student reports:

“I was impressed with the argument from Plaintiff’s attorney. She was posed, able to jump right back into her argument after answering questions from Judge East, and possessed a convincing candor. Neither of the defendants’ attorneys displayed similar skills as the plaintiff’s attorney. Their arguments seemed to not pass the “laugh test” and that lead them to lose credibility with me. One thing I learned is that you need to put your best arguments forward, but if they cannot pass the “laugh test”, you should not move for summary judgment. Additionally, remaining calm and collected like the plaintiff’s attorney goes a long way for controlling the courtroom and creating credibility with the judge.”