Shinbrot’s Five Rules of Litigation

We had a great cdcbaa meeting on Saturday.  Jeff Shinbrot and Judge Mitchell Goldberg (Ret.) discussed dischargeability litigation.  Jeff regaled us with his five rules of litigation.

  1. Keep your judge happy.  File your motions timely, show up to hearings on time, solve your discovery disputes without court intervention, be professional, open minded.  Judge Goldberg commented that a better way of saying rule 1 is “Keep your judge neutral.”
  2. Develop a good story.  Trials, he said, are about telling a story.  Make sure you have your story straight, and present it at trial.  Judge Goldberg commented that it would be nice if the lawyers understand the rules of evidence and use the rules to tell the story.
  3. Know the local rules and the local, local rules.  Look up your judge’s page on the bankruptcy court website.  Ask around about the judges preferences.  Follow the local rules specifically made for trials, like lodging depo transcripts, timely pre-trial orders, the judge’s trial rules.
  4. Learn and follow FRCP 26.  This is huge.  Rule 26 requires disclosure throughout the process without a request by the other side.  It requires continuing disclosure and will result in striking your evidence if you have not followed rule 26.
  5. Have a good trial notebook.  Your trial notebook will include the entire trial.  It will remind you of what you need to do.  All the witnesses, all the exhibits, checklists, legal briefs, opening and closing statements.  In a trial, he said, you are caught up in the moment, you are focusing on the witness in front of you and the judges comments at the time.  A trial notebook will help you remember to ask the court to “admit” the exhibits for example.

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