Trial Season

With few exceptions, the major trials in my career have happened between Labor Day and Christmas. Working backwards through the last three, there was the six lbs of marijuana in the back of a pickup truck case (defense verdict, December 2013), the class action merits trial (we eventually won, November 2013), and the “unwinnable” case of uncle molesting niece by marriage at a wedding shower (defense verdict, October 2013). In previous years, the timing was similar – US v. Roger Day argument in the Fourth Circuit (October 2012), going all the way back to 2000 (Fulmer v. Swidler, two-week internet defamation trial, November 2000).

This seasonal timing is good, because it coincides with the discipline of back to school, and cool mornings that make it easier to haul boxes and easels to Court.  This year started early, with a defense verdict in a robbery case on September 10, and a trial that almost went on September 16, until it became clear that the Commonwealth’s witnesses were not going to make the nearly six-hour drive from Coudersport to Philadelphia.

My next jury trial is set for September 29, a serious case involving a massive drug debt, illegal handguns and an allegedly terroristic threat. It will be an uphill battle, but something always happens at trial that helps in an unexpected way. Writing up my opening argument and witness examinations, I try to remember that the future is unwritten.

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