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ghoulzrulez

First trial tips?

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You're a student so the judge will cut you some slack, but small claims judges can be incredibly harsh on students and lawyers. They cant yell at law litigants so any frustration falls on the lawyer. 

Don't forget the rule of Browne and Dunn and don't get cowed by an impatient judge. Small claims judges interfere much more frequently than superior court judges. If they tell you to move on and you're putting your story to the witness, don't move on. They will remember you didn't put it to the witness but will forget that they told you not to even ask the question that was asked.

Always bring written argument and prepare your written argument before evidence.

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Oh God yes Brown and Dunn. Such a basic downfall and so, so common. 

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Yeah, you have to keep Browne and Dunn in mind. That's another reason why you need your checklist about what every fact you need to prove your case is. If anyone says something that contradicts one of those, you need to challenge them, and have the documents ready if they're lying/shading...

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On the flip side, don’t let the other side argue that you violated Browne and Dunn when you didn’t. Read the case law - Browne and Dunn requires you to put the basic gist of an allegation to a witness so that they can respond. It does not require you to put every minute detail of those allegations to them.

I have had Crowns try to nail me on that before. Ie. say I put to a witness that my client saw them steal a chocolate bar from the drugstore on October 12 in the evening, my client confronted them and asked them to stop but they wouldn’t and they deny it. Then my client testified that the witness stole a Snickers from the drugstore on October 12 at 7 pm and my client told them “Don’t fucking steal.” 

The Crown can’t argue a Browne and Dunn violation because the witness wasn’t told it was a Snickers, it was at 7 pm, or the exact words said were “Don’t fucking steal.” Obviously try to be as precise as possible with what you put to the witness, but if you miss something or something comes out differently from one of your witnesses, it is not the end of the world. 

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