A Curse Be Upon...Me?

Yesterday, I experienced a first as a trial lawyer. After I won a jury trial on my motion for directed verdict, the pro se litigant's sister placed a curse upon me, prompting me to over-enthusiastically address the indignities of such an offence. Her uttered incantation aside, I find myself reflecting on some lessons learned about the case.

In short, the case was a simple car crash. The Plaintiff claimed a host of physical and mental injuries all attributed to my now deceased driver/client. Unfortunately for the Plaintiff, she burned through two highly competent attorneys and opted to try her luck on her own, proceeding pro se. More unfortunately for the Plaintiff, she neglected to 1) offer any admissible evidence at trial, 2) offer any medical testimony linking up her injuries to the crash, or 3) offer any evidence or testimony regarding her claimed medical bills. So, after we picked a jury, made opening statements, and the Plaintiff testified, I moved for directed verdict (i.e. to dismiss the lawsuit on legal grounds as the Plaintiff failed to prove the essential elements of her claim.) Although the trial ended favorably for me, the Plaintiff will likely file an appeal, and I may be cursed.

What can be learned from all of this?

First, don't upset someone who freely casts curse-filled spells. Second, don't burn through competent counsel – they tend to know how to present a case to a jury. Third, if you do burn through competent counsel, hire another one. Trying a case to a jury requires some attention to detail, such as knowing the rules of evidence. Finally, follow the rules of civil procedure and the local rules so the court doesn't exclude witnesses and evidence on technical grounds.