Three Tips for Trying A Case During COVID-19

Transcription:

Brendan Lupetin:
For those lawyers watching or who will watch this, who are going to try a pandemic case and haven’t done so, is there any advice now that you are seeing the experience from a different vantage point, having tried a case that you would give to people?  Or things to keep in mind that maybe weren’t as significant to you ahead of time that are now, or things that were, that you were planning for and played out that way?

Peter Pentony:
Good question. There were a lot of little logistical details that you don’t necessarily think about, and you take for granted that now come into play. This one poor fact witness. Who’s a good friend of our client who lives in Massachusetts. He would have done anything for his friend as far as being there for him for trial. But I didn’t realize until about two days before the trial that his attendance at trial meant that when he returned to Massachusetts from West Virginia, he was going to have to quarantine for two weeks. So I felt terrible about it and he didn’t complain. He was just awesome about it, but I felt horrible that this guy is going to come to trial and testify for 30 minutes. I mean, max 30 minutes in the courtroom and then heading back to Massachusetts and he’s going to have to quarantine for two weeks.

Peter Pentony:
So for out of state witnesses, think about getting videos done. Make sure you’re protecting those folks so you’re not disrupting their life so much. Another thing is getting food into your body during trial. I don’t know how you are, you look like you’ve got about the same metabolism as me, man. I get hungry, and there’s no courthouse cafeteria that’s open right now. There’s no corner deli that’s really quickly serving food right now. So bring PowerBars and stuff in your briefcase and make sure you’re able to get yourself in and get your client fed, because you don’t want to fade during trial. It’s not as easy to do that as it used to be. And then, I don’t know what to tell people about the masked jurors other than to do as much research ahead of time on your potential jurors as you can. So at least you know the general outline of what these folks are and who they are. It was helpful to me to have Cory there with me who spent a lot of time just watching them in a way that I couldn’t, while I’m carrying on the trial. And try to take note of who was reacting in what way. Cause it’s really hard to take a quick glance at the jury and see if they’re frowning or scowling or smiling or just not paying any attention at all.

Brendan Lupetin:
And then how about people that are worried about themselves having to wear the mask during the trial? Do you think it’s just “grin and bear it” or has it become you forget about it after a while? or did it bother you? What was your experience overall trying the case a lot of times having a mask on?

Peter Pentony:
Good question. I think we’re at the point now where most folks are getting used to it. You forget about it. I wear glasses, so you’ve got the fogging up issue and you just have to try to find your way through that with the proper mask and getting the fit right. I can’t help that, it’s just one of those phenomenons that’s going to occur. I would say that I was surprised and heartened a little bit at how comfortable the jury seemed. I’ll tell you this some might think this is funny. We went through all these precautions to keep them safe and social distance, and spread out, masks all the time, and microphone condoms, and all this kind of stuff. And you know, the jury is in the courtroom. So when they reached a verdict, everybody else trooped in and the jury is sitting there waiting for you when you walk into the courtroom. It was six ladies. They were all sitting in a close little cluster with their masks down chit chatting with each other as we walked in. And I thought, you know what, people want to be out. They want to be doing this kind of thing. They take it seriously. But the people who are really losing their mind about this are pretty small and on the edges of the extreme, both ways. Most folks are happy to take reasonable precautions, but still go about their business. So we can’t assume everyone’s going to be terrified. We shouldn’t be terrified. We should get to it, you know.