Hitting the High Points – The ‘Philosophy’ of Voir Dire

By Darren O’Leary Aitken, Esq. Noted trial lawyer, Tom Girardi, opines that in the modern era cases are not tried due to conflicting facts, but due to conflicting philosophies. In other words, most cases go to trial because the opposing lawyers and their clients see the same set of facts differently. Some of these conflicts… read more

“Is the Policy Open”

A. Define “Open Policy” When has an insurer, by virtue of its failure to meet its duties to its insured, exposed itself to paying the full value of a third party’s claim — including amounts in excess of policy limits? Typical Examples (black & white): Failure to pay settlement demand that is within the policy… read more

Setting the Record Straight: Debunking the Myths of Tort Reform

As plaintiffs’ attorneys, we are constantly placed in the position of having to defend not only our profession, but also our clients, who are generally looked upon with disbelief throughout the litigation process. Claims adjusters, defense counsel, and juries have been inundated with over 30 years of misinformation and propaganda from big business – misconceptions… read more

Winning Mediations: Successful Preparation for Successful Presentation

By: Darren Aitken Introduction For the litigator, mediation skills are vital. It is no overstatement to proclaim that Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) in general, and extra-judicial mediation in particular, are now a way of life. It is almost inevitable that at some point during litigation one side or the other will request that the matter… read more

Jury Voir Dire Topics (Checklist)

Where they live/who they live with/family make-up Occupation (and relevant occupations of spouse, children, parents, close friends and relatives) Familiarity with litigants, lawyers, the case, etc. . . . Prior experience as jurors Prior experience with lawyers (as clients, as witnesses, etc. . . . ) Prior litigation experience (and satisfaction with the exposure) If… read more

The Use of Evidence in Opening Statement and Closing Argument

Presented by:  The Honorable C. Robert Jameson, Orange County Superior Court  Richard A. Cohn, Aitken Aitken & Cohn I. Fundamentals/Legal Principles A. Opening Statement C.C.P. §607(1) — When the jury has been sworn unless the court, for special reasons, otherwise directs: (1) The plaintiff may state the issue and his case; (2) The defendant may then state… read more

Public Parks and the Natural Immunity: Duty to Warn (About Mountain Lions and Other Assorted Things)

By Wylie Aitken & Richard Cohn 1. LIABILITY OF GOVERNMENTAL ENTITIES AND PUBLIC EMPLOYEES IS THE RULE, WHILE IMMUNITY IS THE EXCEPTION. Interpretation of the Ducey v. Argo Sales Co., (1979) 25 Cal. 3d 707. “. . . The language of the applicable statutes refutes the State’s argument that it is under no duty to… read more

Business Torts: Fertile Land For The Skilled Plaintiff Lawyer (And More Particularly For The Skilled Evaluator)

By Wylie A. Aitken INTRODUCTION This article was inspired by some of the great mentors I have had in my career, including Herb Hafif and Vern Hunt. The theme of this article is that accomplished plaintiff jury trial lawyers, whether aspiring, upcoming, seasoned or veterans can apply their skills in areas otherwise reserved for “litigators”… read more

Secrecy in the Courts

Currently, there is an effort by pro-consumer interests in California to push for new legislation that would prohibit (or at least limit) “secret” or “confidential” settlements of certain types of legal cases. Those supporting such legislation believe that secrecy in the courts permits wrong-doers to quietly resolve meritorious cases, with no fear of negative publicity;… read more

Recreational Injury Law Update

When a person participating in a recreational activity is injured due to the negligent and/or careless conduct of another person, common sense would seem to dictate that the injured person should be compensated for his/her injuries and damages caused by the wrongdoer. Unfortunately, under California law the rule is far from clear — and recently… read more