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Expert Declarations and Summary Judgements

With some expert witness declarations, it’s like the experts were paid by the word. The declarations are long on jargon but short on clarity. When it comes to summary judgment, expert declarations can overwhelm lawyers. This is so long, I guess we have material facts in dispute. But stripping away the parlance can sometimes reveal a secret hiding in plain sight: that the declaration isn’t saying much at all. In this video, Dave Sugden discusses the recent case of Fernandez v. Alexander, 31 Cal. App. 5th 770 (2019), which illustrates the importance of taking a close look at expert declarations during summary judgment.

Privileges and Waivers

When it comes to exclusions and limitations, a relevant piece of evidence may be excluded for policy reasons. As such, is there a way for lawyers to know right away when a privilege may be waived? In this video, Dave Sugden discusses the psychotherapist-patient privilege and a framework on the tiers of disclosure that waives this privilege, namely (1) existence, (2) purpose, and (3) significant part.

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Hearsay Exceptions

When it comes to hearsay, taking a second or two to think of an exception is still too long in court. The judge will likely sustain the objection and move on. So how can lawyers quickly recognize whether or not a hearsay exception likely exists? In this video, I discuss two working rules to recognize hearsay exceptions, namely (1) necessity, and (2) trustworthiness of the evidence. Recognizing these exceptions can quickly determine whether the evidence should be admissible or inadmissible.

Character Evidence During Trial

In this training video Dave Sugden discusses how to understand and apply the rules of character evidence during trial. The distinction between character evidence and habit evidence isn't always obvious. What is (inadmissible) character evidence for one judge might be (admissible) habit evidence for another. Mr. Sugden talks about this in detail, as well as the occasions wherein character evidence is allowed, namely — (1) when it is at issue, (2) when it is offered for "other purposes," (3) witness credibility. . . and much more.

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Spotting Hearsay

I know it's an out of court statement, but is it hearsay? And even if it's hearsay, is it objectionable hearsay? When it comes to confronting hearsay during trial, we need to be both fast and precise. In this short Spotting Hearsay video, Dave Sugden discusses a way to accurately and quickly identify (1) objectionable hearsay--that is hearsay we'll want to exclude, and (2) potential exceptions.

Understanding Relevance

This is a basic primer on how to tackle relevance questions during trial.

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Business Records Exception

Understanding the Business Records Exception to the Hearsay Rule

A Team Approach

How should lawyers and expert witnesses collaborate? Both want to ensure that whatever the expert talks about in trial is admitted into evidence.

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