Vermont Bar Journal
Spring 2007 - #5.
We Can Do It Right: Post-Trial Reflections
THE VERMONT BAR JOURNAL SPRING 2007
We Can Do It Right: Post-Trial Reflectionsby Herbert G. Ogden, Esq.
I have just finished such a nice trial. Actually, it is not quite finished, because the jury has to come back tomorrow to reach a verdict. But that gives me the chance to write about the trial without being influenced by knowing the winner, and thus, I hope, to make my comments more objective. The idea for this article came to me during a long walk after I said goodbye to my clients and left the courthouse, and it ripened during dinner. I had brought along a little book to read, since I had no dinner company. Instead, I thought about writing this, while enjoying a wonderful dinner of veal scallopini and two glasses of Gruner Veltliner. I do not know when dinner alone has been better. I just luxuriated in the good food, the good wine, and the good feeling from the trial. Now I am in my hotel room trying to write something to show that, at least in Vermont, trying cases can be really great. I have changed a few non-legal details to protect identities, of course. Much of the credit goes to opposing counsel. They were unfailingly polite, even in the stress of a trial that the judge had emphatically stated should take a day less than we thought it was going to. Before trial, they played by the spirit as well as the letter of the rules. They made sure their clients answered discovery. They did not spend hours in depositions asking about trivia. They did not coach their own clients during depositions--no interjections of "if you remember," to remind the client she was not supposed to remember. They both responded promptly to phone calls, email messages, faxes, and letters. They gave me more time when I reasonably requested it. This made me happy to do the same. My clients seldom asked me "Why are you playing fair when those guys aren't?" The few times they did, I think they misunderstood what was happening. The opponent who specialized in legal research raised good legal defenses. I disagreed with them, but the judge did not, and two out of three counts of my complaint never made it to the jury. I was not happy, but I knew reasonable people could differ, and my opponent did not treat my position with contempt. The one who tried...