Law 795 - Using Real-World Jury Trials to Master Trial Techniques

Mark Baute

Mark Baute

Adjunct Faculty
B.A. University of Washington
J.D. UCLA School of Law
Course Description:

This course is a deep dive into developing trial advocacy skills, using two actual civil commercial cases that were tried to juries in Los Angeles.  The course materials will use the actual emails, text exchanges and trial exhibits and transcripts from the trials in two cases: Jane Doe v. NBA Player, Hampton and Allen; and Scott Howard v. Lisa Kudrow.  The Jane Doe case was a sexual battery case; the jury trial was in 2016 and the oral argument in front of the 9th Circuit is scheduled for this November. The Howard v. Kudrow case as a breach of oral contract case involving the syndication revenues for the television show, “Friends,” tried to a jury in 2015.

Course Learning Outcomes:

This course has several learning objectives:

1.    Students will learn how to select a jury and conduct voir dire, using a real juror questionnaire from a real case, under time pressure, i.e., real courtroom conditions.
2.    Students will learn how to give opening statements, using real trial transcripts and exhibits, from two real civil commercial cases.
3.    Actual direct examination transcripts will be provided to students, so that students can improve and enhance their skills at conducting a direct examination, with evidentiary objections used to test students’ abilities to adjust to sustained objections under time pressure.
4.    Actual cross examinations of lay witnesses will be performed, using actual trial and deposition transcripts for impeachment, and actual trial exhibits, again, with sustained objections, to replicate an actual courtroom environment.
5.    Actual direct and cross examinations of expert witnesses will be performed, so that students develop the trial skills unique to both qualifying experts, and undermining experts, in a jury trial setting.  Four different experts will be chosen from, using actual trial materials: a pathologist; a psychologist; a talent agency/entertainment expert; and a damages/forensic accountant.
6.    Students will give opening and closing arguments in one of two actual trials, for the purpose of developing persuasive skills in the context of opening arguments to a jury, and closing arguments to a jury.
7.    Live feedback will be provided by the professor, and fellow students, immediately after each trial skill building exercise.
8.    Time pressure which mirrors actual trial conditions will be used in each class, to ensure that students develop a real sense of what actual jury trials are like, so that students learn about the need for immediate adjustments in trial strategy.
9.    Students that are members of the mock trial team will be able to use this class to enhance their skills and readiness for any mock trial competition.
10.    The two actual trials selected will be useful to students that wish to develop trial skills in both a business litigation practice, and in criminal law.
11.    The way the rules of evidence are actually applied in a trial setting, under extreme time pressure, will be learned during the classes which focus on witness examination.