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How to Prepare Your Court Case for Trial

Madsen Law Offices

Preparing Your Case For a Hearing or Trial

Winning a case is not just about having the best evidence but preparing that evidence to be digested by a Judge or Jury.

Evidence that may be relevant in a case comes in all forms. The most common form of evidence is, of course, verbal testimony given in court. However, text messages, emails, voicemails, pictures, videos and other documents may all be an important source of information to a Judge when making a decisions.

Presenting your attorney with thorough, organized, evidence that can be understood at glance will both save you money and help you achieve a better outcome in your case.

Notes

Your own notes may be admissible as evidence in a court case. They may be admitted for the Judge or Jury to look at directly or they may be able to be referenced by you during your testimony. If you plan on keeping notes, which you should, make sure that the version you plan on using for court does not contain any information that can portray you in a poor light or be used against you. If your notes are something illustrative, such as a custody calendar or diagram, make sure to make them as easily interpreted and understood as possible.

Text Messages

Text messages are becoming a more and more common form of evidence and should be presented in paper form. Always make sure to keep a copy on your phone, do not delete them. The court will be very reluctant to skim through your phone, but it is important to keep them on your phone to verify their existence if the opposing party questions the authenticity of your paper copies.

There are many programs for different phones that will allow you to print the messages in a simplified and organized fashion. If you do choose to use screenshots, either present them to your attorney in paper or as a multipage pdf, do not send individual screenshots to your attorney’s office as they will have to be compiled by your attorney and may result in additional fees.

Documents

Many times, documents are needed by your attorney or by the court. When presenting documents to your attorney, keep each document separate, put a cover page on each document explaining what it is, and it is important to your case.

Pictures

Pictures can be a powerful piece of evidence in court. When sending pictures to your attorney, place a cover sheet on each picture with the following information, who took the picture, when the picture was taken, what the picture shows and why it is important.

Video Recordings

Videos can be sent to your attorney via email if size permits or delivered on a USB drive if the files are too large for email. Videos should be accompanied with the following information, who took the video, when the video was taken, what the video shows and why it is important.

Audio Recordings

Audio recordings made without another person’s knowledge are illegal in Pennsylvania and are inadmissible in court except for in a very limited number of circumstances. Do not send audio only recordings to your attorney’s office without first discussing them with your attorney.

Record & Note Keeping Tips

Keep Your Notes Concise & Reader Friendly

When preparing for a custody case, it is important to keep track of as much information as possible so that the Judge can have a full and complete understanding of your case. When keeping notes, remember to consider the custody factors your attorney has provided to you.

 

Try to keep your notes as concise, yet thorough, as possible. It is important to be keep your notes easily readable but also informative for two reasons; 1) your attorney will read through your notes to prepare your case and you will likely be billed for this time, and 2) the Judge may look at your notes and may not have the time read through small details. If the Judge or your attorney need more explanation for anything in your notes, they will ask.

 

Keep your notes organized and concise and you will likely save money and achieve a better outcome.

Custody Cases - Maintain a Custody Calendar & Notes

Consider keeping one large organized calendar or three (3) separate sets of records:
  1. A smaller calendar to keep track of the time the child(ren) spend with each parent.
  2. A journal of any incidents that give you concern regarding the other parent’s parenting skills.   Such incidents might include being late to a custody exchange, the child(ren) not finishing homework when they’re with the other parent, returning the children to you unfed or in the same clothes they left in.
  3. A separate journal of all the things you have done with the child(ren) each day. These may include volunteering at their school or social events, helping them with homework, taking them to the doctor or taking them on trips.

Additional Tips for Custody Cases

Additional Tips Specific To Custody Cases
  • Write each entry contemporaneouslyin time with the event that occurred for which you are writing
  • Date each entry and include time when possible
  • Journal where the incident took place
  • Journal any witnesses to the incident and if relevant their contact information
  • Do not use your journal to vent. Be careful with what you journal. Although your journal prepared for the purpose of litigation can be protected from the discovery process, it will be made available to your spouse’s divorce attorney if you need to use it to refresh your recollection at trial. Therefore, do not make any crude comments about your spouse or other statements that will place your character in a negative light.
  • If you document an argument or fight, journal whether your children were involved in or witnessed the incident. Journal the children’s physical response such as crying, holding his or her hands over his or her ears or eyes, etc.
  • Carefully document any statements made to you by your spouse. Only put quotations marks around a statement if it is an exact quote.
  • Balance being brief with your journal entries with including all pertinent information. Although you may have a lot of information to tell your divorce judge, you will have a limited time frame upon which to tell your story to the judge.
  • Write down not only events but also nonevents such as missed visitations, the opposing party’s failure to perform certain obligations or appear at child-related events
  • Journal what you do with your children on a daily basis such as helping with homework, taking them to the park or beach, making a home cooked meal, etc.

Let us help you!

If you need any legal assistance in the Lehigh Valley, please feel free to contact us.  Our Easton Law Office will get back to you within one business day.  Or, just call us now.

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