Trial Skills I - IV

Public Defender Services will be offering a series of small seminars around the state that will focus on pretrial and trial practice.  There will be four levels (labelled “TRIAL I – TRIAL IV) and will focus on (1) Pretrial Planning, (2) Evidence, (3) Communicating with Judge and Jury, and (4) Presentation of Evidence.
These seminars will be given on a rolling basis in various locations around the state, in order to give you an opportunity to attend a session in relatively close proximity to your practice.  The initial schedule is as follows:
               Trial I:
We will provide you with additional dates and locations for the other levels and for repeats of Trial I as we get them.  We welcome any suggestions of dates and locations for additional sessions; however, keep in mind that all of these will be repeated on a semi-regular basis.  Donald Stennett will be the primary presenter, and others will participate based upon location and timing.
We have limited attendance to 35 for each session to better facilitate effective instruction and participation.
If you wish to attend a session, please fill out the appropriate form by location and date.  The proposed itinerary and registration forms are attached and will also be available soon on our website at
TRIAL I:  Pretrial Planning
·        Intake and initial interview
·        Investigation
o   Working with investigators
o   Hiring investigators
o   Fact research by attorneys
o   Using experts to understand the facts (consulting vs. testifying experts)
·        Discovery
·        Efforts to “shape” the case
o   Motions
o   Suppression
o   Evidence (motions in limine)
·        Stipulations
·        Notices of defenses
·        Indictment
·        Legal Research
·        “Theory of the case”
o   Development
o   Inclusion of client
o   Drafting closing argument
o   Instructions
o   Assessment of “triability”
o   Proof Outlines
TRIAL II:  Evidence

This CLE will focus on the West Virginia Rules of Evidence and will be helpful to both the newer and the more experienced practitioners as a refresher course.
Like Trial I, it is intended to be discussion oriented, giving more experienced attendees the opportunity to be mentors of the younger attorneys. For this reason, we must limit attendance to 20.
Knowledge of the rules and how to use them is crucial in defending clients in a criminal case; it gives the lawyer credibility with the judge and the jury; it enables the attorney more effectively to object to evidence and to get evidence admitted over the prosecutor’s objections; it preserves issues for appeal.

Topics covered include:

  • Overview of the Rules
  • Relevancy
  • Prejudice
  • Privileges
  • Witnesses, lay and expert
  • Impeachment
  • Re-direct
  • Character and Reputation
  • Ethics
  • 404(b)
  • Rape shield
  • Hearsay
  • Authentication
  • Foundations 
TRIAL III: Communicating with Judge and Jury
·        Instruction/ Instructions Conference
·        Motions (Trial / Post- Trial)
·        Incorporating Appellate strategy in the trial
·        Credibility
·        Jury Selection / Voir Dire
·        Opening Statement
·        Closing Statement
TRIAL IV:  Presenting the Evidence (Examination of Witnesses)
·        Cross-Examination
o   Types of Witnesses
o   Types and Styles of Examination
o   Impeachment
o   Foundations
·        Direct Examination
o   Introduction of Evidence
o   Foundations