Some of the elements of this planning will be to decide:
What the main focus of your case will be.
What you think the
main focus of the opposition's case will be. Which witnesses
will be called?
How to handle any
data submitted that may appear inconsistent.
Ask your attorney
to fill out a Court Presentation Outline Form for each
way your attorney may handle the case. This form will
help you see the battle plan your attorney intends to
Being in on the plan
will keep you from executing a Charge of the Light Brigade
prematurely. It will also keep you from trying to get
information into the proceeding that you think your attorney
Make sure your attorney
has a Witness Outline Form, a Data Sheet, and a Subject
Profile For Deposition Form on each person either side
may call as a witness. This will give your attorney a
solid basis for questioning.
Understanding Strategic Interaction between you and the
other individuals in your case will strengthen your position
because you will make better decisions. If you assume
that the other side will always make the move you fear
most, it will lead you to expect that the other will never
This will encourage
you to be absent from the real battle while fighting an
imagined war in your mind, and ultimately caring more
for short term wins and discounting the consequences for
the future. It is never safe to assume that the only priority
of the other side is that they are "out to get you."
The opposition has
many pressures and priorities of which you are unaware.
The continuing opportunity of interaction is necessary
for the development of cooperation, but is not sufficient
if the other side is never encouraged to participate.
Your efforts will be judged by their results.
Strategy: Short Range and Long Range Planning
As Commander-in-Chief, devise your strategy! Establish
the needs of your side and your desire and right to engage
Enlist your troops and mobilize their skills to mount
your campaign! Survey the terrain and your financial ability
to gain ground while still protecting your side from stray
enemy bullets or friendly fire.
Gather your data ammunition, load your guns and prepare
to deploy your professional armaments, such as attorneys
and detectives. Present a solid front to the enemy, observers,
Once fully supplied and supported, execute your battle
plan offensive. Shore up any weakened defensive positions
and maintain damage control while your attorney directs
the legal maneuvers.
Contain any battle damage while building a well-constructed
case to win the war being waged before the mediator or
Establish a lasting plan to maintain peace.
Your strategy should not be etched in stone. Just almost.
Your strategy must be flexible enough to bend rather than
Your strategy must be solid enough in its entirety that
it will not collapse over the long term.
You can not consider making changes or actually implementing
changes in your strategy when you are tired, hungry or
Strategy: Fighting Battles or Playing Games
In 1994 two Americans and a German won the Nobel Prize
in economics for work identifying that companies do business,
governments make decisions and armies fight battles much
the way people play poker and chess. Understanding the
systems of competition and cooperation are tremendously
important to the legal battle.
You can handle yourself
and your opposition with less work and more success if
you understand how each of you thinks.
Discussion of strategy
here is conducted with the assumption that you are dealing
with a person from a social group you understand. Americans
negotiate and cooperate best with other Americans. This
would be true of any individuals from the same country
because there are many situations and attitudes that are
already understood by both. Discussion with a person from
another country may be complicated by lack of foundation
of information about the customs, laws and accepted attitudes
by one or both participants.
Interaction between you and the other individuals in your
case will strengthen your position because you will make
better decisions. If you assume that the other side will
always make the move you fear most it will lead you to
expect that the other will never cooperate. This will
encourage you to be absent from the real battle while
fighting an imagined war in your mind, ultimately caring
more for short term wins and discounting the consequences
for the future.
is never safe to assume that the only priority of the
other side is that they are “out to get you."
The opposition has many pressures and priorities of which
you are unaware. The continuing opportunity of interaction
is necessary for the development of cooperation, but is
not sufficient if the other side is never encouraged to
Gathering and Record Keeping
pace of progress in a lawsuit may be determined by the
principals' acceptance or rejection of systems they view
as too expensive or overly complicated. When you wage
war, you need adequate armaments. In our day-to-day life,
some of us use computers to earn a living, and some of
us operate heavy equipment.
intelligence and ability to reason things out will always
be your best weapon. As you decide what you can and cannot
afford, remember, "Stone knives and bear skins in
the hands of the right person can win against all the
high-tech equipment in the world." It makes the battle
much more difficult for the under equipped, but I have
witnessed low-tech passion win against Hi-Tech snobbery.
The Dark Side
The weapons of this war are identical to the weapons of
any war. A weapon can be used for defense and offense.
Any weapon can be used against the warrior who brought
it to the battle. Because of this problem, not everyone
agrees with the wisdom of keeping a log or diary.
speaking, it is good to keep a detailed record of what
goes on. Be careful how zealously you represent the wrongs
the other side has inflicted on you. Exercise caution
when deciding to whom you will present either knowledge
that the log exists or the log itself. There are evaluators,
mediators, judges, and attorneys for the other side who
feel that meticulous record keeping is "evidence"
that a person is compulsive, controlling or obsessed.
we asked evaluators, mediators, judges, and attorneys
for the other side who felt uncomfortable with meticulous
record keeping; "What should a person do who is dealing
with inconsistencies, false accusations, and behaviors
that threaten the well being of one's family?" The
room gets very quiet and no reasonable answer is forthcoming.
you will hear it stated that the log is won't be accepted
as evidence at court, so its a waste of time to do all
that work. Even if the court will not accept your log
as evidence is amazing how often an expert witness or
psychologist will take time to look them over. Indexing
will improve the chances of a professional examining your
psychologist may be more interested in how you view the
problems than in what was happening at any specific time.
For this reason it may be a good idea to have someone
you trust read intermittent entries in your log. This
person would be able to tell you if you sound accusatory
or vengeful in your entries.
your friend tells you there is a problem in your log read
Confidentiality - Documentation
All record keeping documentation may be subject to the
process of DISCOVERY. Therefore, it is important to decide
how and what you will document, and who is aware of what
you are doing and what documentation exists.
the event that documentation must be presented for inspection
to the opposition, you may not feel too concerned if it
is not easy to hear, read or sort. Once information is
entered into the case and is filed with the court, it
becomes public record. Public records may be viewed by
anyone who knows where to find them and wishes to inspect
or copy them.
Crucial Data to Record
Any contact with the opposition or the oppositions employees.
Incidents and statements involving potential witnesses.
Money spent for attorney, private investigator, or other
professional or expert witness.
Anything else you think is important.
Simplicity and Speed
You can devise a code for your log which will facilitate
the making of entries and expedite compilation of data.
type of diary or log may be subject to the process of
Discovery by the other side. It is best not to mention
its existence to anyone except your attorney.
the time comes, this system of coding will help you and
others (mediators, psychologists, judges, expert witnesses,
etc.) find key information quickly and easily.
facilitate the process of identifying what is really important
to the professional who may see the log, check with your
attorney to make sure that the timing on any information
you give the professional is ok for the other side to
see now. Copy the entire log to substantiate the information.
the important sentences with a light blue marker. Don't
over do the highlighting or too much won't be read either.
If the professional finds your highlighted sentence important,
the professional can read more.
of the many not so obvious messages your log can convey
to the reader is your stability and the normalcy with
which you live your life.
One of the important reasons to document is to produce
evidence. No one will have the time or interest to look
at all the evidence you produce. Therefore, it is important
to gather everything you can; sort out what is of real
value to your case; and assemble it in the most compact
and easy to understand format available. The important
question is, "What is Admissible Evidence?"
The real answer is, "Any evidence the judge wishes
to see." The judge may properly receive only admissible
evidence but need not permit a party to introduce all
admissible evidence. Within discretion, the judge may
exclude otherwise admissible evidence when the court determines
that its possible value is outweighed by negative factors
such as undue consumption of time.
Any equipment or documentation proving you purchased or
rented equipment may be subject to the process of DISCOVERY.
Therefore, it is important to decide how you will attain
equipment and what you will do with it and who is aware
of what you are doing. In the event that the court is
made aware that you purchased equipment that is illegal
in your jurisdiction, it would be difficult to prove that
once you had the equipment that you did not use it.
If you, like many business people, are already in the
habit of working with an appointment book to better organize
your time, designate a place each day in your existing
system for updating the important notes about your case.
Many business people use time systems or appointment books
for their work and personal activities. If you are using
this kind of system with success, adding your "contact
log" information to it is an excellent idea.
A calendar with room to make simple notes on a daily basis
may be adequate.
blank forms to help you gain and maintain control in the
`Case Management Forms for Litigation.'
Small notebooks are easy to carry around and handy to
make notes in. However, because of their size, they are
also easy to lose and forget. The notebook method is great
if you have clean penmanship and good follow-up skills.
Photocopy your pages regularly and put these copies in
a safe place.
Design a fill-in form that will fit in a standard, three-ring
binder or can be reduced, using a copy machine, to fit
in your appointment book. Use a form that allows you to
insert data quickly and easily. It will be necessary to
photocopy entries on a regular basis and put these copies
in a safe place.
If your penmanship is poor, make cassette tapes of information
you wish to record. Be sure to label and safeguard your
recorded tapes. Eventually, you will need to have the
tapes transcribed. Duplicate these regularly and put the
copies in a safe place. Pocket recorders are useful during
face-to-face verbal communication with the other side,
your attorney, detective, or for making notes to yourself.
NOTE: The speed of the recorder determines the quality
of the recording. Record on the highest speed possible
on the machine you are using. Duplication or transcription
require clear clean originals.
Because many of the entries in your contact log will be
repetitive, you may find that a computer is the ideal
method of record keeping. You can design your own format,
or use our example. The program should allow easy reference
by name, date, or event. Whether you set up your own system
or use an established program, there are several types
of information important enough for you to record. If
you are familiar with computers, keeping a contact log
will be much easier for you. The easier it is to keep
the log complete and current, the more valid the document
will be when you need it. Pale Horse Publishing has software
to assist with document generation and log keeping.
This is a service offered by the telephone companies in
some areas that allows you to see the name and telephone
number of anyone calling your telephone. There is a blocking
service for people who do not want their number to show
on Caller ID. You may or should subscribe to both services.
Camera, 35 MM
Use a 35mm camera that records the date, or date and time,
of the photo. The advantage of 24-expo¬sure film over
36-exposure is that it is faster to complete the roll
for processing. Usually 400 speed film is adequate for
indoors and 200 for outdoors. If your photo skills are
limited, check out a book at the library and read about
the basics of taking good pictures.
A video camera can be the second most valuable piece of
equipment. It is small and very efficient with a price
Fax machines allow you to send a copy of a photo or document
over the telephone lines in seconds. Most business offices,
including doctors, attorneys, and detectives, have "fax
ability." If you are unable to purchase a fax machine
and you find it necessary to get data to someone who has
a fax, most copy centers offer fax service at a reasonable
price. Many computers have modems and software that allow
you to fax directly from your home or business computer.
Pagers offer many of the advantages of the mobile telephone
with much less expense. Business people, homemakers, and
students use them with great success for keeping in touch.
Telephone Answering Machine
Connecting an answering machine to your telephone can
accomplish several things: allow you to include a message
telling the operator that you are willing to accept collect
calls from your allies, and offer an alternative number
to your pager or another telephone on which you can be
reached in case of an emergency. In some states it is
prohibited to record conversations on the telephone without
the express permission of all parties. The exception to
this rule may be messages left on answering machine. These
may be admissible in court since the person did know they
were leaving their words on the machine. Keep important
tapes in a safe place.
Double-check the laws in your state as to how, where,
and when you may record conversations with other people.
A mobile telephone gives your attorney and your allies
access to you. It does not restrict you to specific addresses
or location. When you are at a specific address for an
extended length of time, either call-forward the calls
from your mobile number to that phone, or leave the mobile
phone on its charger. Some of the mobile communications
systems have a "Follow Me" service.
Telephone, Recorder on Phone
There are special suction cups and plug-in phone devices
to make the process of recording easier and of a higher
quality. Check with a dependable authority as to the legality
in your state.