A Tool of Advocacy - Trial Brief
Attorney at Law Magazine - Metro Detroit Edition, 2014
5 Pages Posted: 16 Aug 2014
Date Written: July 7, 2014
The purpose of this article is to demonstrate effective Michigan trial practice by presenting a trial brief in both state and federal court. A trial brief is a short written summary explaining your position to the judge. It states the facts, evidence and legal arguments that you plan to present at trial and should include citations to legal authority, statutes and case law to support your position. It is particularly useful where the substantive claim is one in which the trial judge may be unfamiliar and to help him or her understand how it applies to your case. For example, Michigan has established "Business Courts" and insurance coverage disputes are in this category.
Put your summary up front at the very beginning. The entire opening paragraph should be your conclusion or points with persuasive reasoning. The trial brief is the advocate's first opportunity to inoculate, educate and persuade the judge on the specific outcome of your case. The second purpose is to educate and persuade opposing counsel and create doubt and risk in his or her position.
Develop a persuasive and exciting writing style with bold captions, short paragraphs in bullet-point format on key areas and no string citations. A single case on point is sufficient and will be greatly appreciated by the judge. After you re-read your draft, read it again and cut information. This is the time and place where less is more.
File your trial brief before the last pre-trial conference and hand deliver another copy or supplemental copy to the judge and opposing counsel before voir dire.
Keywords: Trial Brief, Michigan Business Courts, Trial Practice, Litigation, Trial Advocacy
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