DIY Litigator: Learn How to Represent Yourself in Court | Paul Yokabitus | Skillshare

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DIY Litigator: Learn How to Represent Yourself in Court

teacher avatar Paul Yokabitus

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
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Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

12 Lessons (1h 30m)
    • 1. Introduction to Course

    • 2. Preparing Your Claim

    • 3. Making the Demand

    • 4. Filing a Lawsuit

    • 5. Preparing for Trial

    • 6. Court Etiquette

    • 7. Rules of Evidence

    • 8. Objections

    • 9. Questioning Witnesses

    • 10. Exhibits

    • 11. Succeeding at Trial

    • 12. You Won or Lost Now What

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About This Class


No Attorney? No Problem. You've got a legal claim against someone who wronged you and you can't hire an attorney for any variety of reasons: you can't afford to pay one, you don't want to use one, or no attorney will take your case. Don't just let your legal claim expire. Represent Yourself.

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1. Introduction to Course: Hello. My name is Paul Yoke Abita Simon attorney license in state of North Carolina, and I'm the creator of the Ally Litigator Learned to represent yourself in court. This is a course that's meant to teach you how to represent yourself in traditionally a small claims or a minor magic record. Um, this is not legal advice. It's meant to be based on us common law, Um, federal rules of civil procedure and the federal rules of evidence. Nothing I say in this court can can be or should be construed as legal advice. It's purely meant for educational purposes and to give little tips on what things mean and definitions and those sorts of things. But using all this together is gonna make you head and shoulders above anybody any other litigants in the court and set yourself set yourself up for success. So, uh, if you enjoy everything, there should be some resource is for you to use. Please give me a rate review and share to your friends, and I hope you enjoy the course 2. Preparing Your Claim: welcome to D I Y litigators module on preparing your claim. This is poll, and I'm gonna walk you through this module. Please take a moment to pause this disclaimer page. Please take a moment of pause. This disclaimer pages well, I'm moving forward and continually this course. Do you acknowledge the disclaimers and agreed to abide by them? So what is the claim? A claim means that you have been wrong in some manner, and the person who wronged you may owe you something because of it, Whether that beat money or the return of property or to fix your property, it's going to depend on your specific states law. And again, we're not talking about specific states here. We're talking in generalities. So there are common examples, though in small claims court, you're often going to see personal injury claims, which would be the crime or the claim of negligence. You're also gonna see breach of contract damage to property defamation and landlord tenant disputes. So any of those could could be what you're dealing with currently first and foremost, the threshold or barrier issue eyes Do you have standing to bring the claim? That's a prerequisite to moving forward, you must be the person who was injured or had suffered damages. So an example would be property claim has to be brought by the owner of the property. Likewise, a personal injury claim has to be brought by the person who was injured. There is an exception to that, and that's in the case of a minor. Because minors can't bring cases on their own unless they're 18 years old. Their claim can be brought by their parent or guardian at Lightem, depending on the state. So the first thing you need to do is gather your evidence. Your evidence is going to consist of a variety, vision, things, and it's going to depend on your case. But common examples of evidence, maybe invoice showing amounts do photos showing or depicting the damages, whether it be physical injuries like bruises, broken bones, cuts, those sorts of things. It could be damage to property. Could be photos of a car accident or the location where the accident happened. Were the people involved you're gonna need witnesses or statements of the party's either live testimony or affidavits from those witnesses, which you're gonna be sworn. Affidavits are, uh, I'm sorry, sworn statements that are notarized by a notary public. You're going to need to show three or evidence the who, what, where, when and how. Those are things that are going to illustrate your claim. It needs to be just more than just your version of events. They have to actually prove your case. The reason why we need more than just your version of events because then we just have a he said. She said Case, if all you have is your own testimony first you need to research the law, the state. It could be different. A lot of these claims air are driven by state law. Very few of them still rely on the common law. So some claims are not going to be available in all states. So ah, great start is Google. Google is gonna be, um you're jumping off point. So you're gonna do some research? Ah, and I'll give you some examples of search terms of the next slide. But, ah, you're gonna do some very broad research on legal terms like defendant, plaintiff or negligence or breach or contract those sorts of things and the elements of the causes of action that you may be entitled to bring so another good resource to give me lawyer websites in your state and lawyer blog's in your state, and sometimes you're going to one of the same. So why I say that is ah, lot of lawyers give out a lot of educational information about, you know, general topics like legal causes of action like negligence, breach of contract, property damage, landlord tenant disputes, those sorts of things. You need to be careful with these, though, because not all lawyers are created equal and some people probably shouldn't be lawyers. And, ah, instead, still, you know, decide to put content out there, and if you rely on it, you're relying on it at your own peril or to your own peril. Eso first what he research You need to figure out if your claim is valid in your state. So good long tail search. Key terms for Google will be stuff like defamation of Michigan landlords security deposit law in Florida, invasion of privacy in Oregon. See if it's even recognized. North Carolina, for instance, does not recognize invasion of privacy. Um, but it could be different. Your state you need to figure out what the legal elements of your claim are, which are going to be the things that you have to prove it. Or does he succeed in bringing your claim? So an example would be common law negligence, which is the the general term or the legal term for personal injury that consist of 44 Elements duty, which is the wrong day. The wrongdoer must have had a duty imposed by law to act or not act in a certain way. It must have been a breach. The wrongdoers actions constituted a breach of that duty. There must be causation, meaning the breach was the proximate cause of your injuries or damages. There must be damages. You have to have actually suffered injuries or damages that are recoverable in your steak. Next is has the statue of limitations expired. So the statue of limitations is the time period after the cause arises when it took place, whether it's car accident or or damaged property, the time period where the claim must be filed, the actual loss you have to be filed in order. Teoh, bring that claim. If you wait too long, you're gonna be barred from bringing it So even if you have the guy dead to rights, even if he admits it to you If you don't bring the claim within the 2 to 3 to four year statute limitations, depending on your state and your claim, you claim is going to be lost forever. So you have to also connect the dots. So you need to apply the facts of your claim to your state's law. And, um, you essentially saying what did the other person do or fail to do that will satisfy the elements of your claim? And how can you prove it with the evidence? So your evidence needs to support your fax. It's not just what happened, it's what you can prove in court. There's gonna be a module on the rules of evidence and exhibits, and you're going to see that not everything that happened is gonna be admissible in court. So you're gonna have Teoh collect the best evidence you can and ah, use it according to the rules of evidence that you're gonna learn later in a different module, you're gonna need to get organized, so you need to keep a folder together, or Binder keeps all your information Ah, and add to it as need. It has gonna included your invoices, your medical bills, your photos, any witness or police contact information or statements, statements made by the other person or the location information. So it's going to be time, date, weather, road condition, those sorts of things this needs to be organized so separate it don't have the invoices with the photos and and the medical bills with statements that could. I think you separate him out. So when you when you need to use them, you know exactly where they are. You need to arrange your evidence according to the elements of your cause of action. So, for instance, medical bills would go with damages for personal injury claims. The accident report would go with breach and approximate cause for personal injury claims. You need to regularly update your case folder as new information becomes available. So what you don't want is to get to court, and not the most recent evidence is in there. You're relying on old evidence and it's incomplete, and it's not gonna be enough to prove your case and you're gonna lose. So you need to keep things in the appropriate order as you're as you add more information. So it might be good to have little tabs that separate the different types of evidence and the different elements you need to show. You need to also maintain the correct contact information for all of your supporting witnesses, so that if you need to subpoena them to show up for court, you know where to subpoena them and where the sheriff needs to go to serve them with the subpoena, you need to play Devil's Advocate, so this is going to require you to be a little objective about your own case. So you need to examine the strength of your own case by looking at it from the other person's perspective. So what evidence will the other side use against you? What are there witnesses? What defenses will they use? If someone was bringing your claim against you, how would you defend against it? This requires you to really take a 30,000 foot view and, you know, get out from your own head and really think about it from the other. The other person's perspective. You need to also think of it from the Magister to the judge's perspective which is also going to be an independent, neutral perspective. This judge, maybe jaded about these kinds of cases that they hear these cases all the time. Years is not gonna be very unique. They they're gonna know the law very well. You're going to need to sound credible. So does your evidence sound credible to this kind of person? Somebody who sees these, these types of cases all the time. Some of you may be jaded by this process. If he sees a lot of landlord tenant, he's probably not going to be super impressed with your landlord tenant case. Like was, If you don't have that that bad of injuries from a personal injury case, he may not be impressed with just whiplash. You need to be objective in your analysis. Is the potential defendant able to pay so getting a judgment and satisfying and judgment or totally different things. So even if you're right, even if you're if you got the guy dead to rights, he admits it 100% if you get a judgment, if the person doesn't have the ability to pay it, it's worth its weight on the paper. It's basically worth the paper it's written on. So if the defendant can't pay, the strength of reclaim is not that important. So you don't want to throw good money away chasing after bad money. So now that you have your case organized, hopefully you've researched all the law. You're likely for success, and you're ready to move forward. If you get to this point, you're ready to keep going. We're gonna move on to the next module, which is gonna be making a demand to the other side. So this is old pre litigation. So this is all leading up. But your strongest case pre litigation is gonna be one that's organized, researched and thorough. So don't forget that just because you haven't filed a lawsuit yet doesn't mean you don't need to be prepared to file a lawsuit. So move onto the next module. We'll talk about making a claim 3. Making the Demand: welcome to D A Y litigators module on making the demand that you researched your claim. You ready to move forward? Let's make the demand. So what is it? A man? It's putting the potential defendant unnoticed of your legal claim against them. So this is essentially explaining to them why they're at fault without giving too much away . So you want to tip your cards too much. It's explaining how you been damaged and demanding some sort of compensation for your damages. So if you had property damage, your demanding money or that the property be fixed in order to remedy these damages, um, you're gonna be explaining essentially what they did and how you've been damaged. You're gonna There's a couple different kinds of demands. First is a verbal, so you're actually putting them on verbal notice? Could be a neighbor. Could be somebody from the neighborhood. Some somebody that you may have the opportunity to see again could be written. Um, it could be essentially a letter written letter to them to their address at work at home. Doesn't matter, could be face to face. You're actually going to confront them in a peaceful way, obviously, don't verbally confront them aggressively. Just bring it to their attention face to face. Or you could do it through council. So if you've, um, you know, sought counsel and all they'll do for you is send a nasty or a letter from from an attorney with an attorney letterhead on it. Ah, that could be good enough for you to put the other person on notice. I need to put it in writing in in Ah, because that's essentially the best way to do it. Paper it. So this is a written letter to the defendant, also known as a demand letter. So the reason why I always say put it in writing is that it provides a record so you can go back and look at the date you put them on notice. What was the substance of of that written notice And, um, the response or lack thereof from the defendant? It also allows you to review and revise. So if you write it down, you make a draft, you can go back and change it, especially if you are heated. When you're making that draft, you can type it up. You know, go walk away for a couple hours. Go to dinner, sleep on it, come back to it the next day. Re read it. See if it still looks good to you. It also allows you to properly organize the claim, which will Ah, we'll be getting to in a moment. Um, you don't want to just have a bunch of, uh, gibberish, you know, being yelled at or first even spoken to the defendant that's not organized or cohesive. Ah, written letter also allows the defendant to adequately really claim and forward it to their insurance provider if Apple kable. So if you have a personal injury claim, there's likely gonna be insurance behind it. Likewise, if you had, like, a dog bite or somebody damage property, there may be insurance for that type of claim. So this allows them to forward it on and gives their insurance carrier adequate notice of the claim needs to be in letter format. So, um, there's gonna be an introduction saying, you know, this is what the purpose of the letter is. So I'm writing you to notify you that you have damage me in, you know, X y z fashion and that I have been damaged in x amount and then you're gonna go down to fax . She could be a separate heading You're gonna set out. You know, the day it happened, where it happened the time it happened, the conditions in which it happened, who was involved and what happened? How you how you were damaged, essentially, on what the defendant did to do that you're going to set out liability, which is where going back to the last module. You're gonna be applying the facts to the law. So you're gonna say something like you ran your car through a red light and struck my car in North Carolina and Missouri and Wisconsin. That violates the U no duty of care and the operation of a motor vehicle. And by bridging that duty and striking my car, you cause my injuries being the property damage to my vehicle. But also the with flash, a broken arm or whatever your personal injury, Maybe then you're going to conclude with a demand for compensation. So the conclusion is wrapping everything up. So, um, you know, in conclusion, because you did this you reliable for that? Uh, in order to resolve all claims and move on from all of this. You need to pay me X amount. You know, uh, $10,000 or $5000 or you need to fix my bike, Kurt. Or you need Teoh pay for my car repairs, that sort of thing. And there's gonna be an example of a, uh, basically a dummy demand letter in the link for this module below. So review that before you before the introduction, should set out who you are and why you're writing needs to be a brief synopsis of the incident. Um, so again, you just kind of given the high points who you are and why you're right. The fax. What happened? Be specific. Needs to be time, date, location of people involved. And it always has to be from your perspective. So you're gonna be leaning towards your perspective, proving your case. So explain your dad is with some depth. So an example. After you ran into the back of my car, I suffer excruciating pain in my neck and upper back. It was forced to miss several days of work because of the pain or because of the, you know, because you ran into the left side of my vehicle hit my head on the steering wheel and suffered from a concussion and had not been able to work since that sort of thing. The liability section is Why is the defendant at fault? What did they dio and why do they owe you anything? So you need to apply the facts to the relevant law again. He did the research. So your fax applied to your state's law. What's the conclusion? Example. As you should be aware, you struck the rear my vehicle when I was sitting at a red light. There was nothing I could do to avoid the collision. Your failure to reduce your speed to avoid the accident was a breach of the standard of reasonable care and the proximate cause of my injuries and pain. Something like that is very one sided. There's no reason to be objective. It's all about proving your case and making the strongest claim possible. The conclusion is wrapping it all together. What do you want again if you have a specific monetary value that you're seeking if you want your medical bills taking care of if you want to be compensated for pain and suffering , if you want the value of a contract that's been breached if you delivered goods or services and were never paid for him. If you want to just be paid on the contract. If you want to have those goods returned, get return of those items or if you want a removal of an item from your property, you need to spell it out. Be specific some tips on the damage portion of the demand. You need to be reasonable, and it has to make sense. If you have medical bills and injuries, ask for money. Don't ask for something that the defendant can't give but ask for more than you. You'd settle for star high work down from there. So if you think in your case is worth say, you know you settle for 10 grand started. 20 started 15 because most people will meet in the middle. So if they're gonna come back at five, you might meet. Might meet in the middle of 10 that kind of thing, and you need to allow and actually state you need a response by it. Reasonable time. Seven days, 14 days, 30 days, That sort of thing before moving forward and escalating the claim to a lawsuit. So if either the defendant denied liability or refuses to pay what you're willing to settle for, it's time to move forward with your case. So the next module we're gonna be talking about filing a lawsuit. So now we're moving from pre litigation into litigation. This is where you're gonna become that D i y litigator. You're going to use where you're gonna, uh, list, learn and these modules to your benefit. So if you can't settle it, move on to the next module. 4. Filing a Lawsuit: This is D A Y litigators module on funneling a lawsuit on Paul. I'm gonna walk you through this module. So where do you begin? Uh, there's several aspects of final lawsuit. First, is that the complaint summons filing fees, service of summons. We gotta figure out which court and what happens after that. What happens after it's filed? What happens after it's served? So we're gonna take that one time. What's a complaint? Ah, complaint is a written pleading in small claims context. There may be an actual court form that needs to be used, and you could be provided that at the clerk's office, where you go to file the lawsuit. So it's basically gonna be a fill in the blank, and you're gonna sign were appropriate certifying that everything is true that you've alleged to the best of your knowledge that's going to set out the names of the parties, the allegations, the cause of action and and requests for relief. What are you asking for that complaint? So there's gonna be a case caption, and it's gonna be normally on the top left hand side, and it's gonna have the plaintiff on top. The defendant on the bottom plaintiff versus defendant. So the plaintiffs were gonna be you on potentially anybody else shoes related to the claim . Who has their own cause of action to be brought against the defendant or defendants? The defendants are gonna be the person or people who wronged you to the people who you're trying to recover from. You need to use legal names only. So that means no nicknames. Ah, and you need to figure out what their first on last name are in middle initial. That's just to be safe. You figure out if there, if it's an individual or an entity that you're suing, could be both in the instance of, um, you know, a car accident would, like maybe a taxi driver or, um, you know, someone who is driving on behalf of someone else. You may have both an individual and intensity as defendants. The allegations are normally going to be in small claims court. At least a short fact statement. Remember the demand letter we just discussed in last module? Let's sum it up. What happened? Why were you wrong or how are you wrong? Why? Why should you recover anything from this defendant? Because of action is going, Teoh, apply. Um, it's basically what laws apply to this case. Could be personal injury, property damage, contract security ties. It retained you reached the law, research the law. Now put it to use. We're just wasting time in the first module. You need to actually do the research. Now we're gonna put it to use in this complaint. The request for relief is going to be what you're seeking. So, um, for small flames, you're going tohave limitations on value that can be collected, and it's gonna baby based on each state's law. So North Carolina, for instance, you could only use small claims court for amounts uh, under at were under $10,000. So if you're seeking more than that yet to file in district court, more than 25,008 file in Spiric or so how do you figure out what your damages are? Where you're seeking could be the amount of a contract. It could be the amount that it will cost to fix your car. That can be medical bills, lost rent, lost wages, lost business opportunities. What do you want the court to do? You need to quantify it but a monetary amount on it and put it in your request relief. There's gonna be a complaint filing fee, and that's gonna be different. Usually state by state, it's usually a statewide filing fee rather than a county by county. But essentially long story short courts not free. So what you're paying for is the court's time to use the courts. Resource is so it'll be due when you file the lawsuit. So be prepared to shell out some money. As soon as you go to the court to file this lawsuit, some states will allow you to recover those costs. That's gonna be the filing in the service fees, service fees. They're gonna be the next slide if you win. And that's to essentially say that a plaintiff should be fit footing their own costs if they're ultimately right. Eso you get reimbursed those costs if you want. The summons is essentially a cover sheet, a formal notice to the to the complaint or to the defendant that the complaint was filed. So this is essentially a command from the court to respond to the complaint and in small claims context. It may command them to actually come to court on a specific date for the small claims trial , so it must be formally served on the defendant. You must actually have proof that it was served. Service means that actual it was actually delivered. It made it to the defendant. So that can happen in three. Would one of three ways certified mail, which is the kind where you get a risk return receipt. The little green postcard with the person signature on it could be by sheriff's deputy, which is gonna be an actual storm deputy of the county Sheriff's Department who hand delivers the summons and complaint to to the defendant personally. Or you could have a process server, which is gonna be a private company whose sole purpose is to serve complaints and summons on defendants and those sorts of things. There's going to be a service fee. So the cheapest of them is the certified mail cost, which could be anywhere from, you know, a couple bucks toe. 10 $15. Um, the shares profit process. He could be anywhere from 20 to 40 to $50 depending on your state and the private process Server fee is going to be around that that same cost, maybe a little bit more than what the sheriff would call it costs if you did the shares process. Which court should be filed in? I mentioned earlier. For instance, In North Carolina, there are monetary jurisdiction limits. So you're the court of proper jurisdictions. You depend on your claim. The value of the claim, the location she incident, location of parties that must make sense to file their so usually the county of the defendant wherever the defendant lives is gonna be a safe bet. What you'll need to research your state's court rules. Small claims is normally low value money and property claims. So again, North Carolina, it's under $10,000. And also North Carolina you can file. You could only file small claims actions where the count or in the county where the defendant lives. So what happens after it's filed? It has to be served on the defendant. Nothing moves forward without proper service on the defendant, so the case cannot proceed. You can't go to court. I just hope that the defendant shows up the magistrate judge or the small claims judge. However your state does, it will not call the case unless the defendant there's proof of service on the defendant. The reason for that is everyone's entitled to due process. So you can't try a case about against the defendant who doesn't know that they've been sued . So once the defendant is served, the court process going to start and for small claim is gonna be trial being set. So usually don't have that much notice for small claims may be anywhere from a month to three months. Uh, and during that time, you're gonna need to prepare for that trial. Small claims is not normally involved, written discovery or that positions. And because of that, we're not discussing discovery or depositions in this course. So where do we go from here? Uh, while I basically just told you were going to get prepared for trial. So this is where we're gonna be. Ah, you know, all the research that you did during the preparing your claim module. And, um, all the analysis said you did for the making the demand module. We're going to be preparing your evidence to combine those two for the best case possible. So our next module is preparing for trial 5. Preparing for Trial: but module on preparing for trial. My name's Poland. I'm gonna be walking you through this module. So the first thing you need to do when you're preparing is figure out what you are and aren't allowed to do, and and that's really gonna be dictated by, uh, you know, general Rules of Court. But more specifically, if your court that you're gonna be going to has local rules now, this is rare for small claims court. But your court may have published rules on the court website or through the um, county or state wide court's website that sets out when things need to be done when certain things did be filed, different types of evidence or different types of objections that are allowed in those sorts of things. So if they exist that I'm not saying actually will. But if they do exist, you need to know about them. You need to follow them. Small claims generally is less formal, but it does have some structure, just much less than trial court. So some of the rules of evidence are a little more lax. Um, you know, the judge may ask you questions directly, which doesn't normally happen in trial court. Uh, you may have opportunities to examine the other party. Um, you may be able to get away with less formal or less appropriate lines of questioning. But generally, if you fail to follow the rules, you're not gonna get the best possible results. The organization is going to be key for preparing for your trial. And if you think that you're gonna have a good result by, you know, grabbing up everything you can think of on the morning of the trial and just going running out the door and just getting there, you've got another thing coming. You're gonna be sadly mistaken for appearing is going to require probably hours of getting things ready and organized and and getting your exhibits in their proper form and making sure that the illegible and presentable and clear that your photos Aaron, good quality if you have them, that you have a complete invoice, that nothing is missing. So in order to do that, you're gonna need to organize things ahead of time and put them in some sort of logical flow. So you may do that by chronological order. I e. This Siris in which the events took place. You may do that by claim. So, um, if you have several claims pending that you're gonna be trying like negligence and property damage may organize things. You know, all of your exhibits for negligence may be under one tab or or in the front, all of your exhibits and evidence for property damage, maybe under another taboo in the back, something like that. So be organizing by claim where you can organize by element whether you have one more claims, you can subdivide it down by element. So that, uh, when you're kind of walking through the presentation of your case, you can have a pretty good logical flow as to what you're supposed Teoh, what sort of renewed order you're supposed to present them in so that you're not kind of just grabbing exhibits and, you know, submitting them with no logical flow To them, it's best to papaya. Prepare some sort of trial binder. And what I mean by that is having some sort of, um, waiter organized, whether it's in a manila folder or a binder with tabs, you know, three ring or to ring. How are we going to do it? That helps you not only make sure all of your exhibits stay there and that you have them all but that everything is organized and that you can kind of pull them out and replace them as you need, Um, so that your organization or lack thereof isn't going to be what you know, trips you up on your day of trial. You're also gonna need toe have copies of all the exhibits for all the parties and the judge. So you generally also wanna have one for any witnesses that you're gonna call related to that, um, exhibit. So you usually have four copies. One for yourself, one for the judge, one for the opposing party and the one for the witness. The best way to do that or keep things organized is the have an exhibit index, and there's gonna be a link below the video of an example of that should be a pdf down that's going to set out the exhibit. What? It's four ie. What sort of claim you're using for what sort element? You're using it to prove on then whether it was presented or not. So that's the main point. Here's keeping track. What's been entered into evidence of what hasn't been. We're gonna get to exhibits on another module. You need to plan on mapping out your elements. So, um, like, for negligence, you're gonna have duty breach, causation and damages. So you need to kind of break that down on sort of an outline. So, uh, for duty What? What evidence? What witnesses are you gonna use for that element for breach? What witnesses? What evidence they're going to use for that element? So on and so forth. The most important is gonna be, obviously your damages. But it's better to kind of plan ahead of time and really work through that and have a logical flow so that you're not really throwing things together last minute or during trial for your witness list, you need to figure out who you gonna call. If you're gonna call anybody, you may not have any witnesses, but what exhibits are you gonna use for each witness? And but I also think through who the defendant is gonna call and who they will likely use against you or what exhibits they're going to use against you. You need to anticipate objections. So there's a module on the rules of evidence that's upcoming and then also on objections. And, um, but applying your your evidence that your exhibits two bottles of evidence and those objection rules, you should be able to pretty pretty well anticipate what sorts of things we're gonna come up as faras potential. Exactly objections to your evidence. So imagine how your opponents gonna treat your evidence. So what rules may work against you? What Rules and making work in your favor and always be prepared for some safe evidence stuff that's not really gonna be objectionable. Give your opening statement if it's allowed. Your court may not alone. Allow it. But it's a good way to kind of forecast your case and your evidence. So what's your main claim? What do you anticipate showing at trial? What sorts of evidence and how How does that evidence apply to the law in your favor? So it gives the judge kind of a taste of what to expect, and it gives them an anticipation of what they'll likely see before they actually render it . A verdict should give you kind of a synopsis of your case and your fax and why you should one your closing statement is gonna be the same thing. But after everything's been admitted, evidence after the arguments been made after all the witnesses have testified, exhibits have been entered. Your going to summarize, Um, and this could be something you can kind of prepare a shell had a time, a very general outline. But it's gonna be kind of fluid based on what did and did not come in. So it's important not to be very rigid on your closing, so don't script it. It's best to give kind of bullet points to hit your evidence, your law, those sorts of things and why you should win. Getting the courts obviously very important. So you need to figure out where you're going. Where's the courthouse? In your county, you need to google it. Maybe do a street view so you can see what it looks like. How close is the parking lot? How much does it cost? Make sure you have your cash or credit, depending on what they what they take. Give yourself plenty of time. There's always traffic on the way to court people always trying to get in. Now the elevators are usually pretty conjecture, but it's so make sure you account for that. Make sure your witness is nowhere to G O and that you have the correct courtroom number. Getting lost is never an excuse for being late. So make sure you get there, you know, 2030 minutes at a time and plan for a worst case scenario. You know, your tire popping or you getting lost or there being no parking. That's everything. The next we're gonna talk about court etiquette, which is incredibly important, so make sure you move onto the next module. 6. Court Etiquette: welcome to D A Y litigators module on court etiquette. My name is Paul. I'm gonna be walking you through this module, so the first thing you're gonna need to do on the date of your court date is to get dressed . Yet you're ready. You're gonna need to be in business attire. Business attire is different for different people, but the basics are slacks, dress shirt, dress use for men. Maybe a polo. If it's a nice polo dress, slacks, blouse, flats or heels for women. Ah, it's pretty flexible. Overall, you're gonna be thinking about what you would wear a church. What? You would work to the office. You're gonna not wear provocative clothing, No shorts, no screen printed T shirts, No sandals, no, um, backwards hats. No hats. Generally, you need to be ah, hygienically uh, set. You know, take shower that day. Do your hair put on makeup. If that's something that you do, get ready because that's your first impression of the judge. The judge is gonna be using that to, uh, you know, judge your case, actually, to be put, be polite and nice. You need to be polite to everyone as soon as you get to the court, you need to start being polite. So that's everyone from other people who have matters before the court. You're gonna need to be polite to court personnel, the judge, the other party. It doesn't matter. The reason for that is your making an impression on the judge and the court officers. And if you're rude, if you're a mean person and you're not light, that's going to reflect poorly on you. So be polite. Be nice to everyone. You're more likely to get a favorable results. I don't want her away so soon as you go to the courtroom, you're gonna need to stay long enough to hear the calendar call. If you are, You know, 15 or 20 minutes early, then go do your business where you have to go to the bathroom, make a phone call, do what you need to do, make sure you're back at least five minutes ahead of the calendar. Call. The calendar call is essentially when the court reads a case listing for the day. The entire docket and um, it shows which cases air up, and the judge will decide how to take those cases. And in what order based on who's there. So if you miss the calendar, call your case. Meat may be dismissed for what's called failure to prosecute, so if you're the plaintiff you brought the case. You need to be there when it's called. That signifies to the judge that if you're not there, then you're not taking your case seriously and it doesn't weren't there time. It's an efficient use of the court's time. So what's the The calendar is called. You need to remain there or or go not far at all. If you needed to the bathroom quickly, just know when your case is going to be called. In order. You may be the 1st 1 called You may Be the last one called Are Somewhere in the Middle. Make sure you're there for the counter call, and when your case is called to be heard, turn off your ringer. So the last thing that you want is for your phone to go off, either during the calendar call or when your case is being heard. It doesn't matter. You need to put your phone on silent and vibrate a silent or vibrate calls and tax can wait . You can either get them done before or after unless it's an absolute emergency. And it's something that a judge who's there to hear your case would be understanding that you need to leave I e. Medical emergency. Someone passed away that sort of thing. You need to essentially disregard your phone. Pretend that it doesn't exist. Put it on silent for an vibrate. Put it away. You need to respect the judge. So when you're presenting your case or when you're answering the counter call, you need to say things like, Your honor. Do not say, sir, Do not say ma'am. The judge is your honor. In all respects, I always stand when you're addressing the judge and last, the judge tells you to sit. So that's just being respectful to the judge. If you are about to make your argument, you need to stand to address the judge. If you are answering the calendar call, you need to stand to address the judge. Say, Your honor, I'm here to present my case. You need to ask permission before you approach the bench. So if you need a hand up evidence to the judge for his or her consideration, whether that be photos or invoices or estimates. If it's a you know, tangible evidence tangible exhibit that you need a hand up, you need to ask permission. You say, Your Honor, may I approach the bench and do not approach the bench until the judge gives you permission . You always need to keep calm. So even if the judge is coming down on you, even if you saying or she's saying things that you don't want to hear, you need to keep calm and you need to carry on with your case, maintain composure and always respect the judge. You need to always speak to the judge or to the court officer who is speaking to you, whether that be the clerk, that the bailout for the judge don't ever speak to the other party, whether it's the plaintiff or the defendant. Whichever role you're serving the other party do not speak directly to them, so always respond to them in the third, the third person so use the defendant's last name. Like Mr Smith, for example, Mr Smith wants you to believe that running a red light is not unreasonable, not turning to him and saying, You hit me with your car. You ran the red light, etcetera, etcetera. Judges hate watching an argument between parties. They want to listen to your argument. To them. The fax. The law? That's it. They don't want to watch bickering between two parties. So give the other party the silent treatment. There should be no ex parte, a communications expert means without the other party present. So what I mean by that is if the other party doesn't show up or if they step out of the room for a little while, don't talk to the judge or attempt to talk to the judge about the facts or the law of your case. You can ask them a general question about, uh, court procedure or the calendar or when your case will be heard. But do not under any any circumstances, speak about the facts of the law. In your case, always make sure that the defendant is there. Before you address the judge about your case, don't drag her over share. That means when you're waiting for your case to be called when you're waiting for your matter to be heard or when you're just in the in the courtroom. Generally or in the courthouse? Generally, nobody first and foremost, nobody wants to hear about your case. They're all there for their own cases. They're just as nervous as you are. And regardless, if you think that you have this the best case in the world nobody else wants to hear about it until you are heard. Oh, are called to be heard for the judge. So bragging is gonna get you know where it's also gonna potentially show your cards or show your strategy to the other party if he, he or she is able to hear you. So don't share your details with anybody who's not involved with the case. Until the matter is called me hurt. You need to wait your turn to speak. So don't interrupt the judge, especially when they are asking you questions or if they are addressing the other party. Do do not ever interrupt the judge. You don't need to interrupt the defendant or the other party either. If you are the defendant, uh, objections are appropriate if they are appropriate objections. So if you're objecting as to hearsay, for instance, and we're going to go over rules of evidence in another module but objections Air. OK, don't continue to interrupt and argue, though. Make the objection. Allow the judge to rule. Normally the plaintiff is gonna go first. They're gonna present their evidence, make their argument. And the defendant is going to respond with their evidence and their argument. So it's inappropriate for you to present evidence when it's not your turn to present the evidence. So normally, the plaintiff presents evidence on Lee during their case in chief, The defendant likewise on leader. In their case in chief, the judges is likely going to allow the plaintiff to have ah, rebuttal present presentation of evidence based on the defendant's case. So it'll go. Plaintiff first, then defendant, then the plaintiff will likely have an opportunity to rebut what the defendant has presented. You need to just go ahead and get past your nervousness, so it's okay to be nervous, but you need to get past it or at least control it. It needs to not be the first thing that you're thinking over. The only thing that you're thinking of you need to be prepared on the date of your court date by participating in the D i Y. Litigator, you're gonna be more prepared than most of the people in court who, like you, are probably going to court for the first time. But overall, you need to remain organized and you need to remain focused. Only think about your case. Only think about your evidence in your strategy. In the end, small claims court is about money. You're not gonna go to jail if you lose. In most cases in most states, small claims has a right of appeal to another trial court. So even if you lose, you may get another try at an appeal. But ultimately it's just money. It's just a judgment or or losing money. If you're the plaintiff and you didn't win, so keep that in mind. You're going to do great because you're participating India. Why litigator? And you're taking the affirmative steps to prepare yourself for court. So just be confident. And remember what you've learned in this module in all of the modules 7. Rules of Evidence: welcome to deal. Why? Litigators module on the basics of the rules of evidence. Money is Paul. Let's get going. So small claims a little less formal when it comes to actually applying the rules of evidence. And that's because of, you know, efficiency. They can't really afford to have a bunch of objections. And, you know, you know, depth evaluations of case law and how it applies of these facts and those sorts of things. So the magistrate judge of the small claims judge would every else your state calls it will usually be less strict in that regard. So some rules, though, are always going to apply. And some are just gonna depend on the judge. You know, you might have ah, judge use a little more lax than others. You may have one that's a little more strict than others, but, um, what this module is gonna go over is the rules that you're probably going to encounter that you make encounter in small claims court. So it's definitely not exhaustive. There are a lot more rules of evidence, and if we were to go, I could do an entire course just on the rules of evidence. It's so exhaustive. But, um, these are gonna be limited, Teoh, Just this stuff that you're likely to encounter, so the first is gonna be relevant. So for relevance, you're going to go to the federal rules of evidence rule for a one, which is the test for relevant evidence. So relevant evidence our evidence is relevant rather if it has a tendency to make a fact more or less probable than it would be without the evidence. So if it helps to prove a fact or this the fact and the fact is of consequence in determining the action. So it has to be, uh, yes, actually relate to the action. So it may be true, or it may help prove a fact. But the fact has to actually relate and be relevant to the actual action or the claim be prosecuted. There must be some logical collect or connection between the evidence in the case. It can be a pretty wide net, though as long as it's it's pretty much on point or someone on point. It's usually gonna come in and be allowed. Not all relevant evidence, though, is going to be admissible. Eso what I mean by that is, while it may hit both of those points in a rule for a one there any other rules to exclude the evidence for different reasons. So first is gonna be that the evidence is unfairly inflammatory, are inflammatory. Jim means that while it is true and relevant, it may likely inflame the emotions of the judge, the jury, and causes them to place too much importance on it. So on that maybe unfairly prejudicial to the other party, there's also hearsay. So that's gonna be statements that are made outside of court that are offered for the truth of what was said, Um, because they're usually unreliable. Um, it's also gonna be opinions. Opinions are very limited for people who are considered layperson's, which we're going to be most parties to inaction. Plaintiffs and defendants are normally to be just everyday Joes. Um, so the ability for them to testify as the evidence is pretty limited. You're also gonna have exclusion for character evidence. We're just going to relate to past, bad or generally bad, but sometimes good behavior on that's because most people, you know can act different than in their past behavior. So we're gonna take them one at a time. So the rule against opinions basically says that if you're not an expert, you can't testify to scientific or technical matters. So an expert's going to somebody who has experience training, you know, whether that be on the job or through college, those sorts of things or education that's going to allow them to better interpret evidence , Uh, then the average juror or the average judge, so their expertise, their scientific expertise, is needed to the or for the trier of fact to make a determination as to a determination as to what actually is a fact. So lay opinion can come in in just a few instances, and that's usually limited to personal knowledge of fax. Um, if the opinion is common sense or if it does not consist of unnecessary legal judgment, so you may be able to testify as to things like Speed, you know, I think that John was driving about 60 miles an hour. Well, I think that because the speed limit was 55 I was going 55 John past me, so he must have been going faster than me. But he wasn't going so fast. is to fly by me. So he's probably going, you know, only 5 to 10 miles faster than me. He would also testify as to emotion like he looked sad or he looked happy. Year. He looked angry. You can also testify us to usually physical conditions, things that air observable, like he looked drunk or, uh, something like that. Or he looked injured, that kind of thing. So that's kind of Ah, lay opinion that will be allowed but won't be allowed, though. Is like conclusions of fact or conclusions of law. So things that come to an ultimate conclusion like he was negligent or he was reckless and the way they drove that sort of thing. That's for the trier of fact to determine. And that's basically also going to include things like, Ah, witness testifying as to what they think the damages are. So, um, that a party or if it is a party, that they should get X amount in damages? Those sorts of things, um, those sorts of legal conclusions air restricted onto the judge of the jury, and then scientific opinions are restricted only to expert witnesses. We're also gonna have an exclusion for character evidence, and that's a general exclusion. This is generally going to include evidence of a person's past behavior. Um, because it it generally cannot be used to prove that they that they did was being what is being alleged. So if someone has a history of drunk driving, you can't use that just to prove that he was drunk driving in this instance, or if he has a history of speeding, you know, as evidence by maybe some past traffic tickets, something like that. You can't use that evidence as proof that, or to prove that they were speeding in this instance so there isn't for that is because people don't always act consistently with past behavior. You know, some people improves and people learn their lessons, so you can't hold that against them. It's not fair to the party. Um, an exception for that is habit evidence, have it? Evidences is evidence that a person does something consistently upon a certain fact factual scenario. So if they, for instance, always put their seat belt down when they get in the car without really even thinking about it, I would be having evidence that would be admissible. Um, it doesn't talk about past behavior or or reflect on them poorly in that way, here say it basically covers. It's It's an out of court statement that's offered for the truth, the truth of the matter asserted. So if you want to say that, you know he said this or she said that and you're you're offering it to be taken as true, that statement to be taken as true. It's going to be excluded unless it satisfies one of the hearsay exemptions or exceptions that's going to include both Orel or read statements. So it could even include a police report or a written statement or an email. Facebook post those sort of things. Those can all be hearsay. It doesn't apply to the other parties Words, though. So, uh, admissions by a party opponent is the rule on point, saying that if the defendant said something or the plaintiff said something, you can use that against them because it must be. It has more markers of, uh, credibility. Essentially, there are some hearsay exceptions, though, if it's not offered for the truth of the matter asserted, For instance, if you're offering it to show that the person had now notice of something or knowledge of something or that they acknowledge something. So if you wanted to say that, John said that the cable was out, Ah, and you, you don't really care if it's true that the cable was that or not. Just that he that he himself knew it or had notice of it that could be used. That that could be used as as good evidence and not excluded is hearsay. Another one is gonna be prior, inconsistent statements. So if John said something two weeks ago that's inconsistent with his testimony today at court, you can call him on it. You can say, Well, John, isn't it true that you said this two weeks ago? That's not here. Say if if it has an effect on the hearer or reader. So it's basically saying whatever was said and, uh admitted some sort of or cause some sort of reaction, some sort of effect to the hero rear. So putting them on notice of something or giving them fear those sorts of things if it's used for that purpose or if it's a present sense impression that said during an event taking place, for instance, as an example. A car is about to hit me. If somebody said that outside of court, say, two weeks before trial, you could bring that in as evidence that John said cars but hit me and in fact a car did hit him then that would be a present sense impression, an exception to the hearsay rule. So generally, that's what you're looking at for the rules of evidence and again, kind of wide net as faras, you know what can be let in. But keep these in mind when you're crafting your argument and getting your evidence together because there could be very important, naturally talking about objections. 8. Objections: you will on objections. So following the basics of the rules of evidence, we're going on to how those rules of evidence are applied. And what happens if you don't do it correctly? So what is an objection? So objection is essentially your way of requesting that the judge excludes some sort of evidence based on some sort of violation of the rules of evidence. So going back to the previous module, the rule of evidence if something violates one of those rules we went over and I get small claims kind of lax on these rules. But you're still gonna have those relevance here say character evidence, opinion, those sorts of things. Those sorts of evidence are still gonna apply pretty regularly. So if something is being offered by the opposing party, uh, and it violates one of those rules, in your opinion, then you can object to it. And you're asking the judge to extend essentially exclude that evidence from coming in or being offered as evidence. So it's your job to notify the judge. It's not the judge's job to be an overall gatekeeper and make sure that any and all evidence is totally staying out. That kind of thing. So he doesn't have to help you. If you forget, you have to be observant. Listen, make sure on point So making an objection where that with the way that looks, is you're going to stand to address the judge as something is coming in. So as the defendant is beginning to present either a question or bring in evidence in the form of an exhibit or if a witness is about to testify to something that's inappropriate, you're going Teoh object quickly before the evidence has its full effect. Before it actually like, taints the judge of the jury, You need to speak only the judge, and you're going to say you're going to state your objection, Onley. Most judges don't want a speaking objection, which is going to say which, you know, speaking objection is gonna be your honor. I object on the basis of hearsay because X, y and Z and be like, um or full legal argument. Most judges don't want that. They know the rules. They heard what the fact was or what the evidence being presented was. They can rule accordingly. Um, so your objection is basically something like objection, your honor here. Say so you're gonna say your basis for the objection, but that's it. If you're too late on on the objection, say the evidence already is being offered and you want to kind of honoring the bell or, you know, unwind at a little bit. Uh, you need to move to strike. Are you making a motion district? So this is essentially trying to have a retroactive elimination of evidence is already being has already been presented. It's more of an issue when there's a jury. Then if there's just a judge like most small flames, instances is not gonna be a jury, but the if it is stricken. And basically what you're saying is this evidence wasn't proper. It shouldn't have been admitted in the first place. So I'm moving to strike it from the record. It should not be considered for any purpose, especially for its truth. Uh, the judge may allow it. And if and if your objection had a good basis and they agree with it, they'll likely strike it. And the judge well, either just disregard it in their own mind for their own deliberations, or they'll give a jury instruction in disregard if there's a jury again, Small claims, usually not gonna have a jury. So the way you move to strike is you say, Your Honor, I move to strike this testimony or exhibit because hearsay because relevance, those first thing you're gonna cite that rule of evidence. You need an I get crazy with it, though. You got to pick your battles. So, um, what you don't want to do is have that sort of the boy who cried wolf situation where you're just objecting to everything, and then the judge gets gets really jaded by it and starts to hold it against you and gets really annoyed. Um, then he will be less likely to favor your side for objections that are really, you know, good objections, ones that you should win. So you don't want to over use it. So everything needs to be, um, you know, way to properly. So, um, if it's substantial evidence that absolutely violates a rule of evidence, you should always object to it. But if it's just picky formal stuff, like a question, you know, wasn't asked in a proper way or if the person is just missing just a little bit of foundation on bringing the evidence in. It's sometimes it's better to just let it go because the judge will respect you a little more for kind of letting that slide and picking your battles. Really fighting when when the fight is good, when it needs to be done. So some common objections objections normally come to form of questioning or the substance of the evidence. So an objection to form is usually come in one of these six way there. As you see on the slide here, you can object that the question is repetitive, meaning that they're asking either the exact same question over and over again, or more than once. Um, and this may say, like, Your Honor, Objection asked and answered that kind of thing as an example, or that they're asking the same substance of the questioning just in different forms. Um, if they're all getting to the same point multiple times, um, you're also gonna have questions that call for a narrative response. So if if somebody asks a question that says so, tell us why you're here today, and that's essentially asking the witness to basically have no limitation on with your butts testify to, and that's improper. Witnesses are supposed to respond to questions in a direct way, so they're questions need to be of direct to them. So if you're asking narrative questions or if the other party is, you can object to that. Ah, and asked for for the questions to be more narrow in your scope for more direct, you can object to questions being leading. So a leading question is, when you say, um, isn't it true that you did this? You're essentially asking a question that's giving a response already. Amore appropriate question, especially in direct examination, is gonna be. Can you tell us what you were wearing the night of the accident? That kind of thing. Ah, and kind of you were wearing jeans and a T shirt. Were you that kind of thing? That's a leading question. That's an improper um, if the question misstates evidence. So if there's evidence it's already in already been presented and accepted by the judge, and the questioning party is asking about that that evidence and they're mischaracterizing it or misstating what's already been said, then you can object as to that that the question misstates the evidence. Um Also along that same vein is that the question assumes facts not in evidence. So if they're mischaracterizing the evidence or they're asking questions or referring to evidence that just doesn't exist yet has been offered, hasn't been admitted. You can object to that. If the question is argumentative, if you're essentially, you know, badgering the witness or if your witnesses being badgered on cross examination that I think , um, you can object that the question is argumentative. There's also objections again to the substance of the testimony or the substance of the evidence. So in this sense, you're gonna have objections for lack of personal knowledge. So if the witness just actually doesn't have actual personal knowledge about what they're about, testify to what they're out already testifying to, you can object that they just don't have they don't know. I mean, they're making something up, or they couldn't possibly know that gonna think like if someone wasn't at the scene of an accident. And ah, a question is asked, You know what happened? You know, to cause this accident, well, there's a lack of personal knowledge. That person wasn't there, so they couldn't possibly know what happened. T cause this accident to the proper objection is your honor. I object. That witness lacks personal knowledge. Um, objections for speculation. Speculation is essentially like, um, if this happened, what would you do? That kind of thing. So you're asking the wet the witness to speculate a conclusion based on a circumstance that you're kind of giving to them, not based on facts, not based on what actually happened, and that's in improper You can object to here, say again the hearsay rules are and out of court statement offered for the truth of the matter asserted. So if that's what is about to be testified to, you can object to that. If the evidence is irrelevant if we start talking, you know, totally off off topic. And sometimes witnesses will wander the start, you know, giving a statement, and it totally goes off the rails and they go on to a totally different topic. Has nothing to do this case. You object, Teoh that the evidence is a relevant again, going back to unfair prejudice if the if the evidence is unfairly prejudicial. So if a person is repeatedly describing an injury, especially a gruesome one, or showing evidence that depicts a gruesome injury repeatedly. You can object that that is unfairly prejudicial because it may result Judge the jury placing too much importance on it or that being really stuck in their head and that kind of carrying the day for the verdict. Also character evidence. So if somebody's trying to use past behavior to prove a current action or current circumstance that's improper, you can object to character evidence. So that's your general objections. So use them, use them wisely, use them sparingly, use them when they count. Um, the other party is probably not gonna know much about the rules of evidence. You're gonna have the upper hand in that respect. But don't don't go crazy. It's it's important to rein it in on use them when it counts. Um, so that's it for objections. We're gonna go ahead and move on to the next module, which is gonna be questioning 9. Questioning Witnesses: module on questioning witnesses on Paul. I'm going to walk me through this. So there's really two different types of questions that you're gonna be asking during trial . They come in the form of a direct examination, and that's gonna be when it's your witnesses, your case, you're putting on the evidence, and then there's going to be cross examination. So after the opposing party has put on their witness and that witness has finished testifying during the losing parties questioning, you get a chance to cross examine them based on what they said. And that's also gonna be potentially hostile witnesses. So if you brought somebody against their will to to come testify on your behalf, if they're a hostile or reluctant witness, you can also treat them as being cross examined. So for direct examination, we're really talking about your witnesses. So when you're conducting your direct examination or quite questioning your witnesses, you're going to be using two forms of questions open ended and yester notions so open, and it is going to be things that elicits a more full, uh, unscripted type response, something more than yes or no. So, for example, what do you do for a living while the witness may say something like, Well, I'm in on a mechanic at, you know, X Y Z collision, something like that. So that's an open question. Demanding or requesting an answer. That's Ah, the witness would know. You know something that they're familiar. Where they have personal knowledge of That's not yes or no. Something like, Where were you on the night of March 1st? Or please explain for the court what you saw that night? Something like that that elicits more of a full response. Yes or no Questions. They're going to be just like they sound. Yes or no answers. Um, do you recognize the defendant? Yes or no? Did you see the defendant at the scene of the accident? Yes or no? They usually aren't going to be requesting something more than that or something, you know, more responsive than a yes or no answer. Cross examinations again are going to be for closing witnesses and the opposing party. So leading questions on cross examination are fine. You're questioning. Doesn't have to be yes or no. Doesn't have to be open ended. You can use leading questions on. Actually, that's how you you keep control of, um, you know, that witness or or what that wants is gonna speak about So you can say things like, isn't it true that and then, you know, go on from there. So isn't it true that you were at the scene of the accident? Or isn't it true that you didn't see the accident, that sort of thing. So you're getting to a conclusion with the question. So you're asking something that's essentially proving a point that elicits a yes or no response. Um, you said you didn't or you said you did it, didn't you? That sort of thing. You're directing the witness to a conclusion, not leaving it open ended. And that's a good leading question. A good cross examination is not giving the witness, um, you know, too much leeway. You know, letting them stay kind of within the space where you want them to be. Never ask question that you don't already know the answer to um, that's a good way to lose momentum and erode the credibility of your argument. You're going to have a lot more control of their response with leading questions on cross examination. So it's best to, you know, pay very close attention to what that witnesses testifying to on direct examination. And there's redirect. Redirect is when you've offered a witness and you've questioned them than the opposing party has cross examined them. You can direct examine them again, but in a limited scope. So it's gonna be based on the scope of the questioning of the cross examination. So you can't expand it further than that. Or, you know, try toe, you know, catch up on a question that you forgot. Teoh Ask. Um, you know, during your exact your direct examination, so a really good way Teoh use area redirect is going to be to rehabilitate your witness. So if they've been knocked around on cross examination, and you know they're starting to look like a poor witness, or if just the way that there were questions brought out just the bad side, you can use the redirect to readability, rehabilitate them, or ask them or full questions that will command or request more of a full response o. R. To elaborate on some of the responses they've given during the cross examination, you're likely gonna be presenting evidence through witness. So a lot of times. That's how you get evidence in into our exhibits into evidence. Is having someone a witness essentially explain what it is and how it relates to the case on They call that laying a foundation. So you have to show why the evidence is relevant and and what it's meant to prove those sorts of things. So, um, so you're gonna again use a witness to do that? So you're gonna first and foremost share the exhibit that you intend to to bring up if its a paper document. Ah, you know, you're gonna want to give a copy to the judge, give a copy to the opposing party and then obviously a copy for yourself and one for the witness. You're gonna give the exhibit to the witness If there's no objection to the what to the exhibit being presented. If there's an exemption in objection, you know, just state your case, Why you think it's, ah admissible and, you know, wait for the judge to rule? If they overrule the objection, then continue with your questioning. If they sustain that, you need to move on to a different exhibit. You're not gonna be able to use that exhibit, at least for the purpose that the judge is excluding it. You ask, uh, obviously present the witness with the exhibit and asked the witness about the exhibit and depending on what you're using the exhibit for, you're gonna be asking specific questions about it. Um, when you're done using the exhibit, you need to move for the exhibit to be admitted into evidence. And what you do that is by saying something along the lines of Your Honor, I move for exhibit one to be moved in the evidence. If you don't do that, then the testimony may be considered evidence. But the exhibit itself won't be considered evidence and evidence is the only thing that could be considered when you know, trying a case or when deciding ah case, if you're the judge or the jury, it's very important for you to have an outline for each witness most importantly for yours because you know you're bringing them and you need them. You need that witness to prove your case, but also for anticipated witnesses that the opposing party is gonna bring. So if you know for sure that they're gonna be bringing a witness that was that. You know the scene of the crime. If you know for sure they're gonna bring their brother Your uncle, you know, have some potential cross examination questions for that witness. Um, and think through, you know, really what they're going to say. And for your witnesses, you need to break out the different lines of questioning. You may. You may prefer to script out the questions You may prefer to do kind of bullet points, but you need to also relate where those questions fit into your case. So what exhibits are you gonna be using? Um, with the witness. And what elements are these different questions going to be used to prove eso a logical flow in the outline is going to set you up for success. So that's it for questioning. We're gonna move on now to the exhibits module. 10. Exhibits: exhibits on Palm A leading you through this module. So what is an exhibit normal? It's gonna be something that's tangible. It's gonna normally be a document, like an invoice or an action report. Could be photos. Um, it could be medical bills. Could be medical records, those sorts of things. But it usually gonna be tangible. Something you you can hold on and hand up to the judgment of the witness. It must otherwise be relevant and admissible. So you kind of have to gatekeeper barriers There has to be relevant but also admissible. And remember back to our rules of evidence. There are obviously lots of different forms of evidence that may be relevant but not admissible. So make sure when you're preparing your exhibits or deciding which ones to use, you're keeping in mind those rules of evidence. So you're not gonna end up getting those exhibits inadvertently precluded? Um, you know, just because you didn't look back at the rules of evidence module, you can use an original or copy the rules of evidence. Don't really distinguish between the two as long as there isn't any sort of authenticity issues. Um, and that's something that's normally not gonna come up in small claims court, but, um, as long as it's ah, you know, the full document on and you can documents, you know, in your own records that it is. You know what purports to be that it is a full record, that it is a full invoice, those sort of things. And you can testify to that point. You're probably going to be fine. And you should have, you know, exhibits that are just long enough to be to make the point you need it for. So what I mean by that is you don't want to, you know, kick a dead horse. Um, there's a, you know, a thought that you need to introduce everything that you have. You know, all of it is your evidence. You need to introduce all of it when you know if you have 100 photos of your injuries from a car accident, probably only 35 or 10 of those would be sufficient to show the really, you know, extent and nature of the injury. So, you know, showing the full 100 may get into, you know, the unfairly prejudicial issues with the the admissibility of the evidence that you may be putting way too much emphasis on, you know, the grotesque nature, the gross nature of your injuries, and not on the actual point that the injuries air that you're trying to prove with the photos of the injuries. So keep it succinct. Keep it tight. Um, just use enough to prove your point you don't need. You know everything that you have. Exhibits normally need to be identifiable, um, by party and by number. So the reason for that is the court keeps a record of what what evidence is admitted or what exhibits are admitted into evidence. Rather so, uh, when somebody looks back at the record, they can see Oh well. Plaintiff's Exhibit one was admitted and evidence planets Exhibit two was offered, not admitted in evidence. So it's best practice to label your exhibits, either with a sticker that says, You know, plain and plaintiff's Exhibit one or if you just, you know, market one you know, at trial or prior to trial and designated, as you know, plaintiff's Exhibit one for the kids. For his for his records for the course records. You should have one copy for everybody who's gonna be looking at that exhibit. So it's normally gonna be you, the judge, the opposing party and the witness that you're offering that the evidence through. So you should normally have four copies of each exhibit. You're gonna want to give a copy to the opposing party prior to presenting the exhibit to the judge. The witness, The reason for that is in case he or she wants to object to it's admission and evidence. Um, you generally want to get that stuff out of the way before you really get on a roll with questioning so that you don't lose motivation or you don't lose your train of thought. So if the opposing party's gonna object, give him opportunity to, you know, defend your point. And, um, if it's good evidence and it doesn't violate the rules of evidence, then the judge is gonna overrule the objection and allow you to proceed with the evidence. And at that point, you're gonna, you know, present the evidence and, you know, give it to the witness. Skip to the judge, those sorts of things, it's very important that you know the exhibit, So I mean by that is you need to know what you're using it for, what the full ease of it says So what you don't want to have happen is you present a medical bill, for instance, as evidence or an action report is probably an even better example an action or four as evidence to support your claim that the other person was at fault. And unbeknownst to you, because you didn't look through the evidence through the the accident report sufficiently, the opposing party notices that it shows that you're speeding or that you didn't apply your brakes, that kind of thing, and that ends up looking poorly on you. If you have known that at the time, you could either have brought out that evidence in your own case in chief and, you know, crafted it to be more positive or not presented that evidence at all and totally eliminated that cross examination potential. So you don't want to misrepresent the context of the exhibit either. Um, so you don't want to, you know, out kick your coverage, so to speak. You want to make it more than what it is because you lose credibility. And it also may impact the admissibility of the evidence. Um, And again, you're gonna want to let the other party review the exhibit first, just so that you get any objections out of the way ahead of time to the exhibit itself is normally going to be presented during your case in chief. And the exhibit is gonna come and want usually one or two different ways. One is direct evidence. So direct evidence is the exhibit itself proves a fact is directly related to the case. So it may be, um, the actual contract that was breached. It may be a photo of the actual car wreck, like right after it happened. It could be a photo of the defendants or a video of the defendant. Now that people have cell phones and a videotape, basically everything on their phones could be a video of the defendant doing the wrongful conduct, whether that be, you know, assaults or property damage or are first thing like that. Um, the evidence itself, you know, proves a fact. So you also have what's called illustrative evidence. A lesser evidence is meant to illustrate a point, not prove, if act in and of itself. So this is often going to be the case with photos of intersections that were taken after the fact. You know, they're not taken at the time of the accident, um, or photos of something that same or similar. So if you had a destruction of property case and say the property was like a bench and, um, you could offer a photo of what a brand new bench in that type of variety would look like as illustrative evidence showing like a before and after. Um, and that's very helpful when you don't actually have a before photo of the bench that was destroyed. So you can kind of show you're not, you know, saying that it is the bench. You're saying that this is what the bench would have looked like because this is the same or similar bench, um, as what was destroyed? Um, same goes for vehicles. It's a really good use of it before a luster to photo is, you know, the manufacturers photo of that sort of truck or that sort of vehicle to show what it did look like before and what it's supposed to look like. Maybe if you if you have a claim for diligent repair, what what the vehicle is supposed to look like versus what it looks like now it's incredibly important. And you're going to fail at trial if you if you miss this point, is admitting exhibits into evidence. So, um, an exhibit is your presenting the exhibit for a specific purpose. But just presenting in and of itself doesn't admit that piece of that that's exhibit into evidence as in on what I mean by into evidence. Evidence is what's actually considered by the trier of fact, whether that be the juror or the judge. So that's what they're considering when making the ruling. So if you don't admit an exhibit into evidence, it's not going to be considered for the ultimate, you know, result. It can't be considered by the judge of the jury. So how you do that is you ask the judge to include the exhibit into evidence. So you're gonna say something along the lines of Your Honor. I request that planets, but one removed in the evidence and it will not be considered if it's not in evidence. So essentially, when you're done presenting the exhibit or at the very end of your case in chief, it's a It's a little more risky doing it this way because if you forget, you forget all of them. But sometimes what lawyers will do is the wait until the end of their case in chief. And then they'll say, Your honor, I move to admit exhibits one through 18 into evidence, and then that kind of it was just a big check mark on all of the evidence. What's more common is for lawyers to admit each exhibit as they're done with it, so that they're checking it off each time they're moving on to the next exhibit. Big thing here is going to be keeping track of the exhibits, and them I'm including a resource in this module called the D. I Y litigator exhibit tracker, but you need to present them and make sure that you're keeping organized. So the tracker is gonna show the exhibit number, whether it's been offered and whether it's been entered in evidence, and the reason for that is so that you can keep track of the exhibit you Jack you already used, but also the exhibits that you haven't yet admitted in evidence of what needs to be done, at least by the end of your case in chief. So that's it for exhibits. We're just gonna go ahead and move on to the next module. 11. Succeeding at Trial: is there just a few key points and tips to make sure you are as successful as possible. The first point is going to pull it all together. So everything you've learned your head and shoulders above most people who are gonna be in the court that day with you, including your opposing party. So pull it all together. You got to use what you've learned today. Hopefully you've been paying attention through all the modules and if not, go back and do it again. So you need to remain calm. So don't let your emotions get crazy because that's going to you know, cloud your judgment. It's gonna make you screw up, can make you say things that you didn't intend. Teoh, you may lose your patients. You may lose your temper. You need to remain calm. That is a huge point of this. You can't present your case is best as you possibly can and want to. If you are upset and emotional, you need to focus on your case. Don't focus on, you know, getting revenge or spite or anything like that. Focus on presenting the plan as you set it up as you outlined as you prepared. It's important to stick to the plan. You got to pick your battles, so be selective in your outrage and objections. So we went over this in the objections of module Don't object to everything you need to be selective Onley when it counts. You know, object one accounts when it's gonna be damaging to your case. Not just because someone is is violating a a minor ruled evidence or something like that. Don't piss off the judge. You piss off the judge. You know it's gonna be through arguing or interrupting the judge or interrupting a witness or party. That's everything. Or just being obnoxious. If you piss off the judge, the judge is gonna have a worse view of you and of your case. And you may not get the outcome that you will that you want. Don't get in an argument with witnesses or parties. It's important that you again remain calm. Let them finish what they're saying before you move onto the next question. Before you interject and detriment com and follow the plan, you need to focus on what you look like to the judge. Your credibility is going to be here because if you don't look like a credible person than what you're presenting. Lex looks less believable. And if that's the case, then the judge if all things are equal, if they're just that much evidence against us there is for you. He may rule against you because you're evidence is less credible. You need to stick to your plan above and all above and over about everything else. Use the resource is that I provided throughout this course user outlines, stick to the plan, implement the plan. Um, if you just wing it, if you don't use any of the the advice or pointers that we've gone through this course, you're gonna fail. Um, nobody who just shows up to court and and wings. It does well, because they're not putting their best foot forward. They're just kind of taking it as it comes. Or being reactive instead of proactive, you're going to have a higher rate of success if you follow the guidelines and use the resources that are being presented here. Remember, at the end of everything, if you haven't admitted your your exhibits into evidence, they are not evidence. The only thing that could be considered is the evidence. So if you don't admit the exhibits and evidence the judge's, the judge cannot consider them when he's making his decision. So use the exhibit tracker. It's there. It's a resource for you Implemented no exhibit type number, whether it's been offered whether it's been admitted, easy to Dio and the judge isn't gonna fault you for taking just a quick moment and checking off the boxes as you go. And again just keep circling back to it. But you need to follow the plan. If you don't, you're going to the train is gonna fall off the tracks and you're not gonna be presenting the best case that you possibly can be gracious in your winner loss. So whatever happens, you need to be a gracious winner or a gracious loser. Absolutely. Do not be, you know, upset. At least not outwardly. So thank the judge for his or her time. You think the witnesses for their time, obviously your witness is probably not going to talk to the opposing witnesses, gather your things calmly and leave calmly. Um, you'll be able to fight another day. Um, you know, likely if there's an appeal, right? So now let the cases over. The last module is what to do now 12. You Won or Lost Now What: into the I Y litigators last module. So you want you'll likely be awarded an award or judgment forever the judge deems appropriate. So if you're asking for money and the judge thinks that you deserve money, then he's gonna ward you money in the form of a judgment so the judgment can be collected upon based on your states laws. So each state is gonna have their own collection exemptions, which are different types of property which are empty for me from being collected against by a creditor, which is essentially what you are now. You're a creditor of the other party. So the issue with that, though, is if the defendant is insolvent, it's the judgment isn't gonna be worth much. What I mean by that is, if they don't have any money to collect against her, they don't have any property. If they lease everything, if they rent everything, then there's no property to go against. Um, you may be in a situation where the the amount of the judgment doesn't warrant further action. You know, if you got $1000 it may not be worth chasing after $1000. That's not collectible. If you want against someone on an insurance claim. Then the insurance company is likely gonna pay that judgment you lost. You likely have a right to appeal to trial court, depending on your state's laws. So some states have an automatic right of appeal. Either party if you want or you lost to the next highest court, which is gonna be normally the entry level trial court. Um, where you're gonna have discovery and you're gonna have depositions, mediations, those sorts of things. And normally, the person who files the appeal has to do so within a certain amount of time, usually 10 to 20 days. Something like that. And they have to pay the additional court costs that you know, the difference between small claims filing fee and the district court for the trial court filing fee. They'll have to pay that because they're essentially restarting. You know, it's it's ah, it's a fresh start. They called a trial de Novo de Novo means it's new, like it never happened. You'll have to make a evaluation determination. So is it worth fighting? Is it worth continuing the case? It's gonna depend on your case and the outcome, and it's really depend on how much it means to you. Um, may not be worth the effort. And in that case, we call that sometimes throwing good money after bad. You may be wasting your time if you're going after an insolvent defendant or if your case is isn't that good? Um, sometimes, depending on the nature of the case, you know, if you won, um, you know what a bit of money and, you know, things got escalated. You may not be, You know, you might have you ready to go to the next step may not be going. Be ready to go to trial court, which is gonna be a much more involved process. So you may think about getting a lawyer involved At that point out I plan on this is kind of an introduction to the next phase of D I Y litigator, which is gonna be debt D i y litigator District Court. So this is for a much longer and more in depth edition of the ally litigator for District court. That's gonna include motions practice, which is gonna include motions to dismiss motion for summary judgment, motion for judgment on the pleadings on those sorts of things, and it's also going to include written discovery like a derogatory is request for production or requests for admission and request for monetary or a statement of monetarily saw. Uh, there's also gonna be modules on depositions. So, you know, taking the testimony of the other party. And, um, what is mediation, which is your attempt through normally the court mandated process To settle this case in good faith and more, much more robust trial prep must more, much more row, best rules of evidence, those sorts of things. So look for that on the horizon, and that's gonna be essentially the next in the D I Y litigator franchise. I hope that you've enjoyed this module. If you did, please leave mirror of you share with your friends, and I hope to see you. I hope I don't see you again. Hope you never have to go to court again. But if you do, uh, hope you use the our litigator again