Taking a Witness’s Testimony by Skype

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A couple of weeks ago, I had a critical witness who would be unavailable to attend a hearing. The Court insisted on a particular date, and the expert had travel plans and non-refundable plane tickets. We decided that we would take his testimony by Skype. Moments after making the decision to Skype the witness, I…

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New ABA Guidelines on Monitoring Jurors Via Social Media

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The American Bar Association has released a formal ethics opinion regarding how far attorneys may go in monitoring social media postings of jurors. Attorneys or their representatives may monitor any activity that is publicly available, but they may not “friend” a juror in an effort to monitor their private social media postings. Nor may attorneys…

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The Judge as 13th Juror: Thoughts on the Fayette Rape Controversy

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Last week, a motion for new trial made news when Hon. Christopher J. McFadden granted a new trial after finding that the verdict was “strongly against the weight of the evidence.” The State’s reaction was three-fold. First, it appealed the decision. Secondly, the State made comments in the press. Third, the State moved to recuse…

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10% Fewer Words

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I recently finished the audio version of Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. It’s geared toward fiction writers, but there is much to commend it to lawyerly writing. The best writing advice I have heard in a while was something that a publisher wrote on a slip rejecting one of King’s early…

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What to Do When Litigating in “Foreign Lands”

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Last week, I had a post-conviction motion in a county where I never practice. The motion is under advisement, so I won’t go into the particulars about it or what happened at the argument. I write today about the things I did before the hearing started and I plan to do those things even when…

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Video Arraignments are a Step in the Right Direction

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Above the Law has a good recent post on the use of video arraignments and how judges find that the process makes them feel safer. I don’t know whether video Arraignments make the process any safer or not. But the process certainly makes the process more efficient. In fact, many of the rituals of court…

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Help the Judge Help You at the Motion for New Trial Hearing

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When appellate lawyers talk about judges, we ordinarily talk about how wrong they often are and about how to preserve their mistakes for later use. Otherwise, we don’t much speak of the trial judge. Yet, at least in Georgia, every direct appeal begins at the trial court level where appellate lawyers have the unenviable task…

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A Guide to Depositions for Georgia Criminal Appeals Lawyers

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A few months ago, the unthinkable happened on a habeas corpus case I am doing in South Georgia. The judge “suggested” that I handle some witnesses on a particular issue by deposition. There were all kinds of good reasons for it. The witnesses were spead out all over the State. I will probably get to…

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