Tips/Advice on Jury Trial Presentation

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Latest post Wed, Nov 16 2016 8:54 PM by Glen Verner. 24 replies.
  • Wed, Oct 28 2015 12:15 PM

    • David_394
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    Tips/Advice on Jury Trial Presentation

    State : TX

     

    Greetings! I am preparing for trial soon (pro se, petitioner). I am here posting because I am a father seeking insight on how my presentation is presented to the  jury. It will be done using a projector in the courtroom. You will see examples below. In particular, I am posting some screen captures of my presentation of how I have things laid out. There will be links to unlisted YouTube videos where you can see this. 

     

    There's alot to say, but I refuse to fall into the deathtrap of writing 12 pages to explain it. To give a very quick idea on the  background of this case without writing a book:

     

     

     

    I am a father with temporary orders to see my child who will be three soon. I am the petitioner. In this case, I wish to be named Sole Managing Conservator of my child. I seek final orders via a jury trial  against the mother, the respondent. (This is very rare but allowed in  Texas). During trial, As a background to my case I will allege she has three children with three fathers - and keeps the children away from their fathers by falsely claiming abuse. None of the fathers have physical custody. I have visits with him in her home twice a week as we are weirdly on an infant visiting schedule still. But, this works for now. I am keeping it this way until trial.

     

     

    There are several issues I will show to the jury, backed up with documentation you will see shortly:

     

     

    1. She has done everything in her power to block me from the child, as well as the fathers before me to their children.

    2. She has allowed multiple partners/people around our child in an  unhealhy way. (Confusing him on who daddy is, etc).

    3. Large amount of alcohol use in home at once for a "single mother" -  (Tequilla, Hypnotiq, wine, rum, gin, 2 gallons of sangria, etc)

    4. Condition of home is unreasonable - weeds 6ft high leading to fleas  in home - inside of home is not suitable

    5. She owns a daycare which has had child abuse and multiple felony  arrests - I compare the conditions of the center to her home. This is a long story which I will not get into. 

     

     

     

     

    *************************************************************

     

     

     

     

    The links below will bring you to video captures in my presentation,  and my questions listed with them. There is audio on one of them, and they are not the greatest quality because of the capture software.  Frame capture rate is low and information has been redacted for privacy. (Note on recordings : All images, records, recordings follow the rule of optional completeness,  entire recordings are always available for the jury to hear if requested.) Each page you will see in the video may or may not have small icons at the bottom of the page, which open text messages, recordings, other data. Most are not shown here.

     

     

    Buildup of case (no sound)

    Description            Images of my son and I from day one, records  of parenting classes I took.

    Link                     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Nnf83jt_zg

    Question              Images of my son and I are laid out with a few  on the screen at once. Parenting class certificates also shown. Are  there any issues with this? (Physical copies will be taken to the  courtroom as well.)

     

     

     

    Recordings, Timelines (Sound sample at :33 seconds)

    Description         Phone/Voice recordings captured of respondent  - timeline of events showing 3 fathers, 3 children, and others she  brings around children.

    Link               https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLGTBGhNpi4

    Question            Each quote on the screen is something she has  said, and can open to play the recording in the exact moment she said  it- with no delay. Is this ever done in court this way? What are your  thoughts on this? Any issues? Also, are there any issues with the  timeline that could cause me trouble? (assuming I have documentation  to show she has has these people around.)

     

     

     

    Documentation of Home

    Description          Images of inside/outside of home. Images of wine bottle corks in home and in child's mouth; child poking stick at cat vomit; interactive           click-within-click (ex: clicking on sink opens the sink image); Text Messages shown. 

    Link         :          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X04Q6tHKbRM

    Question     :          Any issues with bringing up images in the  manner? Is the text message format acceptable? (Phone will be in court  with physical data.)

     

     

     

    Presentation of Data related to Daycare

    Description           Highlighted text shown/Bar graph  comparison/Compliance Data Presented

    Link       https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugHdJ1TK5Hk

    Question            Only slide with lots of text on screen - too much? Suggestions? Is the bar graph acceptable? Is the daycare's bar being red going to be an issue? I wanted to highlight it red to show  how it compares to other daycares in area. State daycare compliance  history was saved and put into a popup window which can be viewed by scrolling.

     

     

    Every slide has an identifier at the bottom left. (Example: 13A) Feel  free to leave feedback with a specific page number. All feedback or questions answered is appreciated.

  • Wed, Oct 28 2015 12:32 PM In reply to

    Re: Tips/Advice on Jury Trial Presentation

    How do you propose to get all that stuff admitted as evidence?  You can't just present stuff.  You have lay foundation, have documents and recordings authenticated, etc.  I'd suggest you spend some time learning the rules of evidence and the rules of civil procedure.  Here's a link for the evidence code -- http://www.txcourts.gov/media/921665/tx-rules-of-evidence.pdf  and here's for civil procedure-- http://www.txcourts.gov/media/1055394/trcp-20150901.pdf

  • Wed, Oct 28 2015 12:33 PM In reply to

    Re: Tips/Advice on Jury Trial Presentation

    I am not a lawyer, and others here can likely give better answers.

    I'll just give you what you asked for which is feedback.

    I don't know that you are going to go very far with a bunch of videos.  Yeah, you swayed me a little bit as to what it might be like in the home, but it's not a crime to have a boyfriend/girlfriend and last I checked liquor is legal.

    No way to tell on the high grass.  I grew up in the sticks and if there's no HOA, people sometimes don't cut their grass all the time.

    Can you possibly hire a lawyer to represent you?  Not that I know anything, but I just don't think your videos are going to amount to anything.  I could be completely wrong and I'll admit that.  The house did not look good of course.  However, videos and pictures I don't think are going to be enough.  Do you maybe have some sort of documented proof the child is in any sort of hardship or danger?  

    For example, public intox records?  DUI records?  Domestic violence records?  Any of those things would likely e useful for your case.

    Good luck!

     

     

  • Wed, Oct 28 2015 4:02 PM In reply to

    Re: Tips/Advice on Jury Trial Presentation

    David_394:
    She has done everything in her power to block me from the child, as well as the fathers before me to their children.

    Don't expect evidence relating to other kids and their fathers to be admissible in your case.

     

    David_394:

    Description            Images of my son and I from day one, records  of parenting classes I took.

    Link                     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Nnf83jt_zg

    Question              Images of my son and I are laid out with a few  on the screen at once. Parenting class certificates also shown. Are  there any issues with this?

    I'm not watching any of these, but images of you and your son aren't likely to be relevant to anything.  If you want to have the parenting classes admitted, then you're free to seek to do so.  I can't imagine that the court will allow you to offer a document by way of a video image of the document.

     

    David_394:

    Description         Phone/Voice recordings captured of respondent  - timeline of events showing 3 fathers, 3 children, and others she  brings around children.

    Link               https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLGTBGhNpi4

    Question            Each quote on the screen is something she has  said, and can open to play the recording in the exact moment she said  it- with no delay. Is this ever done in court this way? What are your  thoughts on this?

    Based on your description (but subject to my caveat above about evidence about other kids), this is probably good as a demonstrative.

     

    David_394:
    Description          Images of inside/outside of home. Images of wine bottle corks in home and in child's mouth; child poking stick at cat vomit

    As long as you or whoever took the photos can testify about them, this should be ok.

    As for the last one, bar graphs are fine as long as you have admissible evidence of the data that the graph depicts.

  • Wed, Oct 28 2015 4:04 PM In reply to

    More [=+=] Re: Tips/Advice on Jury Trial Presentation

    JamyeP:
    I'd suggest you spend some time learning the rules of evidence and the rules of civil procedure.

    Agree.  In addition, finding a visiting a law library and reviewing any civil or family law practice guides regarding the conduct of a trial would be a good idea.

  • Wed, Oct 28 2015 7:56 PM In reply to

    • David_394
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    Re: Tips/Advice on Jury Trial Presentation

    I have to reply to this. I have posted on a couple forums and this seems to be where people go with it right away. 

     

    I don't want to come across like a smart-ass know it all that will walk into court with a big head and get steamrolled in 5 minutes.

     

    But... I have no issues with authentication, or rules of civil procedure, rules of evidence, etc. This is elementary. I am not the best with it, I am still learning. EDIT: I have MUCH learning to do, to even get close. I know this.

     

    As for authentication, in fact, everything will be authenticated before trial. I did speak about optional completeness a bit, so I am not sure why would think it's something I have no idea about. Atleast, that's the feeling I got from your reply. I am not trying to be a smart ass here, really. I feel alot of hate for the pro-se litigant in any forum I post in. Not everyone can build a proper presentation for trial on an issue that will impact their lives forever - that's why you as an attorney (I assume) get paid to do it. Me going alone, I feel, somehow gets to the nerve of many people that do this professionally. 

     

    All items are to be authenticated before trial. Secondly, the little folder icon at the bottom right is reserved in case opposing counsel has any issues with any picture of recording on-the-fly. It contains a list of all exhibits for that particular slide and includes the who-what-when-where on each item. It sits there quietly unless called on.

    It also looks like people think I am wanting to "show videos" to the jury. That is not true. These are videos of me going through presentation slides for trial. There are no videos to show.

     

    Last - many seem (on other forums especially) - that I am going to a custody hearing. This is not a hearing. This is a trial. Texas allows a trial by jury for cases involving custody. 

    Texas Family Code :

    Sec. 105.002. JURY.  (b), a party may demand a jury trial.

    (1) a party is entitled to a verdict by the jury and the court may not contravene a jury verdict on the issues of:


    (A) the appointment of a sole managing conservator;

     

    Again, not trying to be a hot-shot here. Everyone in each of the FIVE forums I have posted in have come to the same conslusions with this. I don't understand how this is confusing. I am not replying to any one person with this remark - just in general.

     

    Perhaps a trial by jury for custody is SO rare, that most don't even know that is exists. But in Texas, yes. 

     

  • Wed, Oct 28 2015 10:29 PM In reply to

    Re: Tips/Advice on Jury Trial Presentation

    As to authentication, in every jurisdiction in which I have practiced unless the opposing side stipulates in advance as to the authenticity of the evidence you must be prepared to lay the foundation at trial to show the evidence you wish to offer is authentic and that it has some relevance to the issues in the trial. It generally involves having a witness with first hand knowledge of it in court to testify regarding the circumstances as to the creation of the item in question. Thus, absent the stipulation, it not something that you do ahead of trial. You do it in the trial itself.

    I think that some of what you wish to introduce may be objectionable on grounds of relevance, like the evidence relating to what she does regarding other fathers and other kids. That's not relevant to your case because what matters is what is happening with your kid, not anyone else.

    It is true that very few states provide for jury trials for custody matters. Texas is very much in the minority for that. And even there, I understand it is not an option often taken for custody cases.

  • Thu, Oct 29 2015 9:29 AM In reply to

    • David_394
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    Re: Tips/Advice on Jury Trial Presentation

    I am quoting you, but not everything here is a reply to you.

    I have 3 people willing to testify that the voice heard on the recording's is hers. This was planned out long ago.

    The child is growing up in a place where there is a new "daddy" every couple of years. Men in and out of the home, coming over around him. Is it in a child's best interest for this to be?  Look at the first child in the timeline - he has had 1.) His real father 2.) Another man living there which he called "daddy" 3.) I moved in and had kid #3 and he called me "daddy", and there's two more men around after that.  There is a recoding where she talks about her children and says "Child #1 says he doesn't need a daddy" and a minute later says "Child #2 sometimes asks why he doesn't have a dad."

     

    Many people say this is irrelevant. How is that possible? Texas looks at a child's "best interest" over anything else in deciding convervatorship. Again, not trying to be a smart ass here. But is that situation even remotely in the best interest of my child?

     

    I messed up being there. I decided to be with her. But it doesn't mean that none of this is relevant. It shows a pattern of carelessness towards the children's emotional upbringing when they do not have a stable father in their lives, including and importantly my own son.

    Wouldn't a jury think "nasty" when they see that situation? After that is presented, I proceed to show there is alot of alcohol use in the home, in which a recording she states she thinks that is okay, and "it doesn't matter how many guys I have over here". So, as someone so thankfully pointed out to me, alcohol is not illegal. Yes, that's true. But I am laying a foundation to show that random men + alcohol party time = unkept outside leading to fleas, unkept inside with a load of clutter and mess. You saw a picture of the little boy playing with cat vomit. Two days later, it was still on the floor when I returned. That is why there were two pictures there on that slide.

     

    It's ironic because everyone I have shown this to (in person) cringes when they see the pictures of the home, and learn about the daycare abuse. Yes, she owns a daycare. A woman was abusing children at the center and she tried to push it under the rug. Her parents, (who worked with her) were arrested on felony failure to report child abuse. My ex was not arrested because laws protect those who "report" child abuse. She actually waited until the last minute to report it. So what's my evidence showing she "pushed it under the rug"?

     

    The state of Texas childcare licensing shut the daycare down completely and and notated about my ex "Director failed to report suspected abuse at the center." She is being sued by 4 families of the abused as well, (for millions $) so perhaps I am not alone in thinking this way.

     

    Are these things going to be irrelevant as well? Or is it relevant because she is truly not fit to be in charge of children in general?

  • Thu, Oct 29 2015 9:53 AM In reply to

    Re: Tips/Advice on Jury Trial Presentation

    I am probably the last person to comment on this but I will say I sympathize with you.

    My 1st wife was a hoarder and things were quite messy in the house.

    I don't know your state, I just know nobody in court seemed to much care about all of that.  Maybe in Texas with a jury trial they will, I do not know.

    My ex wife came to court with a binder of email messages I sent to her.  They were basically all saying she was alienating my children.  The judge wouldn't even take the time to look at a single one of them.

    I had pictures of the house piled high with garbage.  Noone cared.

    That's just my experience in divorce and children.  Your mileage could easily vary.

    I don't think in my opinion you should represent yourself.  I think you should get a lawyer.

    I don't know any of the rules on this, and maybe you do?  I hope you do.

    In my opinion, once again, I think your emotions are going to get in the way of your outcome on this in the courtroom.   That is why I suggest a lawyer.  Or maybe mediation?  Something else other than you representing yourself.  Again, that's all just my opinion.  Emotions can certainly sway all of us.  Do you think Eve had anything to do with Adam eating that apple?  Emotions can be a powerful thing.  I just think a lawyer could remove the emotion on this and take your case on what it is.  

    Good luck!

     

  • Thu, Oct 29 2015 11:14 AM In reply to

    • David_394
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    Re: Tips/Advice on Jury Trial Presentation

    I appreciate your reply. A judge "not bothering to look" at something is EXACTLY why I am going with a jury. I feel like a judge might be more concerned about getting my case moved through the courtroom than anything else. This is scary. Lawyers I have spoken to in person that I considered to represent me.... well... they also shove the documentation aside, or say "well it might come in handy". Perhaps it is because they do not understand how to show it to a jury. Does that sound like I think I am some sort of a hot shot? Well, no. If some continue to read this, I would love to hear replies. The more the better so that I may better understand.

     

    I have gone through my presentation with two groups of people. 

     

    1.) Everyday people that I know. Friends, coworkers. I gave instructions to be as harsh as possible and not be "nice" with their feedback. I feel these people would be no different than a jury pool. After review, not one person even hinted that they would not decide in my favor. Each were disgusted by different parts of the presentation - some with the different men in the home, some with the pictures of the house. Some with the daycare abuse. Yes, a local news station that airs to 3 million people had this story as their main story on the 6'oclock news. I have that video too, should it come in handy to show to a jury just how serious this was.

     

    2.) Lawyers locally and on forums like this. This group has overwhelmingly called me out as a fool that basically stands no chance in the courtroom, some say maybe a little hope is there if I really play my cards right at best. From what I read on replies... it seems most have not bothered to actually look at very much. Perhaps it is not their child and that is the reason for it. All of my actual questions (well, most in my original post) were not even attempted to be answered. I was scolded about learning rules of evidence, etc. As if I ever stated I was not interested in them. Of course they are of extreme, high importance. I know this. But on every forum I hear the same immediate reply. 

     

    It's interesting to note that a lawyer told me the only jury trial she lost for custody was against a pro seopponent. That doesn't mean much, but it is interesting.

     

    The hatred for Pro Se is lurking around every corner. In the 600-page book "How to represent yourself in court" there is an entire subchapter on the hostile (yes, it used that word!) attitudes toward pro se litigants. I see it everywhere. Especially here. If I pretended to be a lawyer seeking advice on my presentation, I probably would have been given straight answers such as "Hey, that looks good but I would not present it like that, try another method" or something of the like. I don't think I would be immediately swamped by people telling me I must learn rules of evidence, etc. It would be assumed that I am familiar with them.

     

    The court may not override a jury's decision for SMC. This is where I am focusing on, on top of civil procedure, etc. Everyone has been blasting me rules wherever I post. I am learning - but I don't need people deciding already that I am an idiot and ignoring it - I am not. That's not why I posted.

     

    No one on the forums I have posted on (five of them) really bothered to read fully what I was asking - but still offered this "advice" that I need to learn court rules.  It's unbelievable.


    The way I have my presentation set up is learned from A2LC.com - it's amazing how much success comes with presenting to the jury as they show. If anyone has not seen their lectures and videos (made for attorneys), go check them out.

    And what about speaking from the heart? Does Gerry Spence not completely obliterate opponents by speaking from the heart to the jury for what is truly just? It does not matter if it's a murder trial or a custody trial. There are terrible things happening and it should be corrected.

     

    Everyone is so concerned with court rules and paperwork. I will get that down. I am still learning. I feel that maybe no one here has ever made a jury presentation that looks halfway decent. Maybe that is where much of the immediate shutdown comes from? 

     

    Is there anyone here that has ever made a presentation that doesnt involve flying graphics and swoosh sounds as something goes across the screen? Again, not to sound like I am a "know-it-all" - but I used the skills I have and handcoded this presentation in HTML and photoshop, giving the ability to pull up exact recordings, documents, screen captures, videos - anything at all.. on-the-fly - as my opponent comes into the courtroom with more knowledge of how to use the rules to her advantage, but with nothing to show except a handful of papers and maybe some witnesses against me. I don't just have a "flashy presentation" - it is filled to the brim with content. It is meant to keep the jury captivated on what is on the screen as much as possible - it tells a story of a father that was denied, denied, denied access - and then into what she's done to the other fathers, then alcohol in the home and multiple men, a disgusting home to live in, and how there was child abuse in the daycare, and finally that my son is living with two people arrested on felony counts of failure to report child abuse. This family is sick.

     

    Do I really have such a little to no chance of overcoming the odds?

  • Thu, Oct 29 2015 12:58 PM In reply to

    Re: Tips/Advice on Jury Trial Presentation

    David_394:
    The hatred for Pro Se is lurking around every corner

    I don't hate pro se's.  From my perspective, the easiest trials to win are against pro se's because they don't understand the rules of evidence or procedure.  Your plans for presenting your case are all well and good but the how is the part you need to fully grasp.  Lawyers learn that in law school and in practice.  Just because you have it and want to present it doesn't mean it will get in.

    David_394:
    The way I have my presentation set up is learned from A2LC.com

    That's fine but they can't tell you HOW to get your stuff admitted as evidence. They are consultants that work on presentation, not on the mechanics of it.

    David_394:
    a local news station that airs to 3 million people had this story as their main story on the 6'oclock news. I have that video too, should it come in handy to show to a jury just how serious this was.

    This is just an example of what you're not understanding...How are you going to get that evidence in?  What witness is going to lay the foundation for its admissibility?  Is the reporter or the cameraman under subpoena?  What was edited out?  Do you have the uneditted version or just what aired?  Have you provided that evidence to the other side?

  • Thu, Oct 29 2015 1:25 PM In reply to

    Re: Tips/Advice on Jury Trial Presentation

    Simple:  Authentication of evidence is necessary.  You didn't mention anything about it in your original post.  I don't know you from Adam or anything about what you do and don't know (beyond what your original post conveyed).  Likewise, we have no way of knowing (because you didn't tell us) that you have made or intend to make arrangements with opposing counsel to stipulate to the authenticity of any given piece of evidence (or that some other system is in place to authenticate evidence before trial).  Therefore, telling/reminding you about the need for authentication is only sensible.  If you already know that and have dealt with it, then good for you.

    Geez...

  • Thu, Oct 29 2015 1:42 PM In reply to

    • David_394
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    Re: Tips/Advice on Jury Trial Presentation

    JaymeP:
     This is just an example of what you're not understanding...How are you going to get that evidence in?  What witness is going to lay the foundation for its admissibility?  Is the reporter or the cameraman under subpoena?  What was edited out?  Do you have the uneditted version or just what aired?  Have you provided that evidence to the other side?  ]


    Let's look at Rule 902. Evidence that is Self-Authenticating.

     

    Specific : 

     

          (6) Newspapers and Periodicals.   Printed material purporting to be a newspaper or periodical.


          (7) Trade Inscriptions and the Like.   An inscription, sign, tag, or label purporting to have been affixed in the course of business and indicating origin, ownership, or control.

     

    The document you questioned me on is a news report with a label specifying the news outlet's name and channel number on the corner of the screen, which was affixed to the video in their normal course of business, indicating origin of the video.

     

     

    JaymeP:
     What was edited out?  ]

     

    Rule 107 allows for editing out segments, if needed. (So the jury doesn't have to sit through an hour long recording just to hear one key sentence.)  Provided, the entire copy is available, which leads to your other question...

     

     

    JaymeP:
     Have you provided that evidence to the other side?  ]

    Yes. It's part of the discovery process. 

     

     

    Am I wrong here? 

     


  • Thu, Oct 29 2015 1:49 PM In reply to

    • David_394
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    Re: Tips/Advice on Jury Trial Presentation

    ca19lawyer2:
     Therefore, telling/reminding you about the need for authentication is only sensible. 

     

     

    I completely agree. But it's amazing that I posted in 5 forums and in each forum, someome immediately tackles me on rules of evidence. Almost none of my original questions were answered. Everyone focuses on other things. It is not what I asked. I would rather have zero replies if no one has trial experience, instead of people choosing something I did not mention and assume I am set up for failure because I think I am a hot shot that doesn't need to follow the rules.

  • Thu, Oct 29 2015 2:17 PM In reply to

    Re: Tips/Advice on Jury Trial Presentation

    David_394:
    The document you questioned me on is a news report with a label specifying the news outlet's name and channel number on the corner of the screen, which was affixed to the video in their normal course of business, indicating origin of the video.

    But a video news report is not “printed material purporting to be a newspaper or periodical” and so does not fall within the literal definition of what (6) allows. As a result, unless you have case law in which the Texas courts have said that news video is close enough to a newspaper or periodical to meet the requirement I would expect the judge to hold it is not self-authenticating under this provision. The trade insignia in (7) may allow self-authentication as far as proving that the video came from the particular news station, but that may not be enough to get the video authenticated as there are other issues besides the source of the video that need to be established. And bear in mind that some or all of the video might end up inadmissible as hearsay, e.g. any statements made by the reporter, any interviews on the video, etc.

    Part of the problem is that what you are attempting to do is bias the jury against the mother by showing her to generally be a bad person. That is why relevance matters. She runs a day care center that has had problems. That's not relevant to your custody case unless you can show that how she manages the day care has some direct effect on your child. And the argument that "if she can't run a day care center properly that must mean she's a bad mother" is not a logical argument and isn't one that would cut it to make that connection for relevance in any court I've practiced.

    Evidence about the condition of the home in which the child lives is certainly relevant and should be admissible if you lay the proper foundation, including the necessary authentication. Evidence concerning how she has treated YOUR kid would also be relevant. But problems with other kids would not be relevant because you are not seeking custody of those kids.

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