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

Medical Malpractice – Plaintiffs Often Victimized Twice

Victims of medical malpractice are often disillusioned when they learn just how unfriendly California law is to them, and how many legal hurdles they face. Because of these obstacles, many are victimized twice: first by the injurious medical treatment; and second by California’s woefully unfair laws that limit or preclude compensation. Through aggressive and creative… read more

Premises Liability-The Duty To Keep Safe

The owner or occupier of a property has a legal duty to keep that property safe from dangerous conditions. This area of law is commonly referred to as “premisesliability”. If a member of the public is injured due to an unsafe condition on the property, the owner or occupier is generally responsible for paying for… read more

Number of Trials Continue to Decline

Nationwide, the number of matters taken through to trial has been declining steadily. The American Bar Association recently reported that the number of federal cases resolved by trial plunged from 11 percent in 1962 to 1.8 percent in 2002. The number of trials per year also dropped by more than 20 percent over the same… read more