Often you may hear of a criminal defendant getting his or her case dismissed, whether it be in “real life,” on the news, or in a television show or movie. You may wonder why it seems like some individuals accused of crimes “get off” when it seems like the odds are stacked against them while others, under seemingly similar circumstances, negotiate for a plea agreement that may include being incarcerated or go to a jury trial and ultimately get convicted. While there may be a variety of reasons for the differences in these hypothetical scenarios, one possible answer is the ...
May 8, 2019CD
Perhaps everyone has observed a television legal show where a witness “cracks” on cross-examination and admits to a crime;1 or in a civil case, the point a party or witness makes some other admission or statement when cross-examined by the opposing party’s attorney that ends the case. An example is when a witness or party is confronted with an incriminating email on cross-examination showing he or she knew some tortious act was occurring, but to that point had denied this knowledge--until admitting it on cross-examination. This blog covers the general background of answers on cross-examination and provides five typical answers ...
July 26, 2018CD
Expert witnesses are common in criminal and civil cases. There are all types of experts, such as use of deadly force in criminal cases to custody evaluators in divorce and paternity cases. To be qualified as an expert, he or she must pass the Daubert test. This standard or test comes from a United States Supreme Court case, but is now written into an Indiana Rule of Evidence, which encompasses the proposed skills the expert must possess to qualify as an expert, said rule stating: “A witness who is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify ...
October 16, 2017CD
Everyone has watched courtroom television dramas unfold in which a fictional attorney stands up in courtrooms and witness by loudly exclaiming, “I object!” Next, the opposing counsel scoffs, and mutters something under his breath, while the judge decides whether to allow the testimony (this is overruling the objection if the witness is allowed to continue). On television, a scene like this certainly serves its dramatic, cinematic purpose, but when you are in an actual courtroom proceeding, understanding the most common objections will help you be a better-informed litigant and more fully relay your “story” to the court. This is key ...
March 30, 2017Adam Hayes
While most domestic cases resolve before trial, those that are tried generally involve unique legal issues, or more commonly, extremely contentious issues such as child custody, amount of parenting time or child support (the two are linked), or serious issues about valuation of assets. Indiana judges get a “hot record”, meaning they are given great deference in judging the witness’s credibility. This blog covers four ways to “torpedo” your case by being a witness that lacks credibility. The first is quite common—denying undeniable facts. For instance, in a long-term relationship that involves drug use, even “recreational” (illegal) marijuana, it is generally ...
January 11, 2017Adam Hayes
In all forms of litigation, civil and criminal, depositions are a common form of “discovery.” Discovery is the process of obtaining information to prepare for trial. In a deposition, an attorney asks questions with the other attorney asking clarification questions to get an accurate answer. With a deposition, it is easy for a party to under- or over-answer questions. When this or other improper answer occurs, the attorney will object, but the witness can answer unless his or her attorney instructs him not to do so; an example where a litigant would be instructed not to answer is with assertion of ...
April 28, 2015Adam Hayes
A recent tragedy involved the murder-suicide of a married couple with the husband taking his wife’s life and then his own, leaving behind a 14 year old son1. After several disputes and altercations between the couple, the husband shot his wife in an intersection as she was going to visit a family member just a few blocks away. The wife had filed a protective order that morning, and had called to notify him of her filing. Under Indiana Civil Protective Order Act, the purpose of these laws in Indiana is for the protection and safety of all victims of domestic or ...
December 4, 2014CD
In custody matters, the best interests of the children are paramount, and the process seeks to determine who shall have physical and/or legal custody of the minor children of the parties. However, the parents are the parties to a custody matter, not children, and in fact, children’s statements are generally hearsay, and not admissible in Court under the Rules of Evidence. So, how are children heard in the judicial system? There are several ways. There was a previous presumption that a child under age ten (10) was an incompetent witness. This has been repealed (revoked) for several years. So, one way ...
June 19, 2014CD
A deposition is a discovery tool, or a way that attorneys and litigants gather information that is relevant to the case. A deposition is just one of many options that attorneys utilize in gathering pertinent information to effectively prepare your case for settlement or trial. For example, during a divorce case, your spouse raises claims that he or she wants spousal maintenance (alimony), and you want to know why, or what their basis is. A deposition is an opportunity to ask many questions about their assertions regarding their request. On the other hand, depositions are good to see how an ...
March 27, 2014CD
If you are a party or a witness to a legal matter, you may be called to the stand to testify. Many people are familiar with this generally, from TV shows and movies. Witnesses are generally sworn in, and then each side gets to ask them questions. Whether the Plaintiff of Defendant (criminal cases) or Petitioner or Respondent (Civil Cases) calls the particular witness determines which side gets to question first, meaning whichever side called them witness gets the first go round of questions. After the side that called the witness has completed questioning (Direct Exam), the other side will ...
March 20, 2014CD