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November 2014


November 25, 2014 11:36 AM | Posted by Cristina Alonso | Permalink

You have been asked to prepare a set of jury instructions and a verdict form for trial.  What do you do? Where do you start?  In my last op-ed, I offered advice on drafting jury instructions.  Now I tackle how to prepare for the charge conference:

II. Preparing for the Charge Conference

Part of preparing for the charge conference is ensuring that you bring with you all necessary material.  That includes bringing to the charge conference copies of all pertinent authority that may be the subject of the parties’ respective proposed instructions or verdict forms. Consider providing the court a binder that includes the instructions, verdict form and authority you will rely on. But, do not forget that it is not enough to simply hand this to the judge. File your proposed instructions and verdict form with the clerk’s office so that you have a proper appellate record. Likewise, make sure all other parties’ requested instructions are filed with the court.

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November 20, 2014 10:29 AM | Posted by Jeffrey A. Cohen and Justin S. Wales | Permalink

Preservation of Error TipsThe specificity required in a motion for judgment as a matter of law/directed verdict (“JMOL”) can present challenges to counsel as they argue motions under Rule 50 or its state-law equivalents. Halo Electronics, Inc. v. Pulse Electronics, Inc., --- F.3d ---, 2014 WL 5352367 (Fed. Cir. Oct. 22, 2014), illustrates what happens when a party fails to raise a particular issue in a pre-verdict motion for JMOL.

In Halo Electronics, a jury awarded $1.5 million in damages via general verdict, implicitly rejecting the defendant’s obviousness defense and finding the patent infringement to be willful. Post-verdict, the defendant filed a motion for JMOL based on the obviousness issue. The district court held that because the defendant did not file a pre-verdict motion for JMOL on that issue, the argument had been waived. The Federal Circuit affirmed.

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November 12, 2014 8:39 AM | Posted by Cristina Alonso | Permalink

You have been asked to prepare a set of jury instructions and a verdict form for trial.  What do you do? Where do you start?  Over the next several weeks, we will offer some basic guidelines for drafting jury instructions or a verdict form, preparing for the charge conference, and preserving any error that may occur during or after the charge conference.

The importance of having clear jury instructions, objections and rulings thereon cannot be underestimated, as jury instructions may be a fertile ground for appeal. Jury instructions are often reviewed de novo because they involve questions of law, so it is imperative that you preserve all potential issues related to the instructions and verdict form.

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November 6, 2014 2:37 PM | Posted by Cristina Alonso and Charles W. Throckmorton | Permalink

Preservation of Error TipsDoes your motion in limine sufficiently preserve your objection to the introduction of evidence at trial, or do you need to be on your toes to make a contemporaneous objection at trial?  A recent Illinois decision illustrates the best practice of renewing arguments raised in motions in limine at trial.

In Roach v. Union Pacific R.R., 2014 IL App. (1st) 132015, a wrongful death suit, the defendant moved in limine to preclude the testimony of the decedent’s family physician regarding the cause of death.  The trial court denied the motion.

On the morning of the day that the physician’s testimony was going to be read into evidence at trial, the defendant renewed his...

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