About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Trial Lawyers by Emily Couric

8. - 471.) The Trial Lawyers by Emily Couric – Written in 1988 the book provides some of the best information and advice on how to be a trial lawyer I have ever read. Each of the trial lawyers has practical advice and insights on conducting trials:

1.) Fred Bartlit (civil litigation) – He uses wallboards to outline cases. He seeks to reduce complex cases to 2-3 points. He handles major interviews and questioning. He was leading the way in using projectors to demonstrate evidence;

2.) Linda Fairstein (prosecutor) – She dresses conservatively as juries expect such clothing. She is thorough and methodical being careful to address all issues. She prefers academic experts rather than professional expert witnesses;

3.) Howard Weitzman (criminal defence) – Make sure you obtain all the disclosure from the prosecution. Work closely with the client in preparing the case while staying in charge. Take the time to go through all the statements carefully;

4.) Fred Harney (medical malpractice – plaintiffs) – Even when you know what a witness will say listen carefully during examination for new opportunities on
cross-examination. Sarcasm can be useful in the right circumstance with the right lawyer;

5.) Arthur Liman (civil / criminal / legislative inquiries) - The “Gentle Lion of Litigation” was a gentleman. He emphasizes plain language asking what would impress him. Be your own personalty in court. He was not sarcastic. Think through cross-examinations before trial. Look for nuggets in examination for cross-examination. Go through all the documents;

6.) James F. Neal (criminal defence) – It is very difficult to win without putting the defendant on the stand. You need the defendant to articulate a rational defence. Do not take the chance that can result in a bad error. Do not put on too much cross-examination and do not put on a witness who might be great or a disaster;

7.) Philip Corboy (personal injury plaintiff) – For civil juries liability is determined in your opening statement. Tell juries what they want to know including unfavourable information. Avoid even an important witness who you think cannot control their emotions;

8.) Julius LeVonne Chambers (civil rights litigation) – When pursuing cases seeking a major change in society it is critical to spend the long hours assembling all the evidence required. Stay calm so you remain objective. He recommends legal specialization. Practise communication skills even if means talking to a mirror. He wants to handle witness depositions;

9.) Richard “Racehorse” Haynes (criminal defence) – Learn to explain clearly and simply. You talk to a jury. Be relaxed and confident in court. Listen carefully and look into the eyes to find the “truffles” – the lies of a witness. Use computers to track statements, He avoids the defendant testifying as he worries the jury will misjudge the defendant; and,

10.) Edward Bennett Williams (criminal defence and general civil litigation) – There is no substitute for knowing everything. Every hour in court means an hour in the evening. Control cross examinations. It is not good when a witness looks at the floor or testifies in low voice or puts his hand over his mouth. The best witnesses are strong, clear and forceful. Call the defendant.

I sent the book to my son, Jonathan, to read when he was at law school. He found it useful and passed it on to classmates (Feb. 8/09) (Best of 2009 non-fiction)


  1. Bill - Thanks very much for sharing this! I'm not an attorney but I'm always interested in learning what goes on "behind the scenes." And all of this advice makes a lot of sense. It's really interesting to see how attorneys prepare behind the scenes, so to speak, for what happens in court.

  2. Margot: Thanks for the comment. Every trial lawyer knows more cases are won and lost in preparation than in the courtroom.