Resolving civil disputes in court used to involve a regular series of trips to tall office buildings and courthouses where we all sat close and breathed on one another to take depositions, mediate disputes, appear at hearings and try cases. Now that we are kicked out of the buildings, must the dispute resolution process grind to a halt? No, while the “jury is out” on the the conduct of jury trials, much of what we do other than jury trials can be Zoom-ized.
Here is my report card on resolving civil disputes from one’s living room: “Zoomigation.”
Mediations: A. In nearly all civil business disputes parties are ordered to attend mediation, a half-day or day devoted to settlement. read more
The legal news wires are “rocking” with headlines in music copyright infringement cases. The Ninth Circuit, sitting en banc, found for Led Zeppelin in the “Stairway to Heaven” litigation and euthanized the “inverse ratio rule.” In a connected world of nearly universal access to copyrighted works, a plaintiff must show real plagiarism, not merely plausible similarities.
Soon thereafter Judge Snyder threw out the jury’s verdict that Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” copied a bass ostinato from Christian rapper Flame’s “Joyful Noise.”
For copyright lawyers this news creates the sort of excitement that NFL fans experience over a tie in the last two minutes of the Super Bowl. read more
On May 15,
2019 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a Bankruptcy Appellate Panel
decision affirming a Judgment obtained by Spillane Law Group for California
Farms Investors, LLC for securities fraud.
Jay Spillane tried the underlying action, California Farms Investors, LLC v. James Roberts, in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California. The defendant promoted an organic lettuce venture through false and misleading statements and without disclosing that the venture was not growing its own lettuce. California Farms Investors invested $825,000 in the form of secured notes. The venture purchased lettuce from vendors with rights under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (“PACA”), including the right to hold insiders of entities purchasing agricultural product personally liable for the purchases. read more
Trying cases is a lost art in the business world. Supposedly 95% of business cases settle prior
to trial. That may be so, because I
consider 95% of my business law colleagues to be litigators, not trial lawyers:
those who exclusively use pleadings, discovery and motions to posture a case
for settlement and who have little to no trial experience.
If a reasonable settlement can be achieved, I advise my
clients to take it. Trying cases is
expensive and uncertain. But if you’re
not eager and able to try the case if necessary, how are you going to get the
best settlements? read more
statements,” or short opening statements to potential jurors before jury
selection (“voir dire”), are a little
understood but critical aspect of trial practice.
Parties are often
required to submit joint materials before the pretrial conference including a short
statement of the case. See LASC LR 3.25(f)(1). As a stipulated document, though, it will be
sanitized to the point of revealing little about the case other than
identification of the parties and claims.
On the day of jury selection, a “panel” or “venire” (“to come,” from the
jury summons) of thirty to forty potential jurors will enter the courtroom and
sit in the gallery. read more