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Thursday, March 08, 2012

Ind. Courts - "Mock trial provides training on coutroom tactics for younger attorneys"

Mark Wilson reports today in the Evansville Courier & Press:

EVANSVILLE — Possibly more attorneys worked on the case being tried in U.S. District Court on Wednesday than any case ever tried there.

Attorneys sat in the witness stands to be examined and cross-examined by other attorneys. In the benches of the audience gallery, dozens of local attorneys listened to the case unfold.

It was all part of a mock jury trial, elaborately staged in Evansville's federal courtroom as a learning exercise for lawyers, particularly young attorneys with limited trial experience. Evansville Bar Association Director Susan Vollmer said the trial was based on a real lawsuit tried in U.S. District Court at Terre Haute several years ago.

Lawyers poured over the original trial transcripts to accurately portray the courtroom testimony. A company was hired to select a pool of jurors from throughout the federal court district.

Chief Judge Richard L. Young, who presides over U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, presided over original trial and lent his time to preside over Wednesday's exercise too. * * *

"Young lawyers who are in civil litigation, they just don't have as much opportunity to try a jury trial as before," he said.

Part of the reason, Young said, is that the cost of trying cases has encouraged the resolution of more cases by arbitration or mediation. Fewer jury trials has meant fewer chances for attorneys to try them, especially younger ones.

"Many of the more experienced lawyers who have been around love to try jury trials. The older, more experienced lawyers often want to do it," he said.

On Wednesday, some of those more experienced lawyers, including Charlie Berger, Lane Siesky, Pat Shoulders and Cory Kuhlenschmidt, demonstrated their skills in "Anatomy of Jury Trial."

"We are going to try to make it as real as we possibly can for you. We have very experienced trial lawyers here," Young told the audience. * * *

"It is becoming rarer that a case actually gets tried, especially in federal court. There are many young lawyers who have never tried a case or don't know how federal court operates. In 10 to 15 years from now, they will be responsible for mentoring those next attorneys," Siesky said.

Vollmer said her office has fielded calls from as far away as California by people interested in the training. To that end, the mock trial was professionally recorded. * * *

The deliberation was live-streamed into the courtroom so that the audience could get a feel for how a jury might think and act, something they would not be able to observe even in a real trial.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 8, 2012 08:09 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts