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Category Archives: Asked and Answered

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Asked and Answered – Melissa Gomez

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In the courtroom, you can do all the right stuff—tell a meaningful story of your client’s case, show compelling evidence, demonstrate courtesy to opposing counsel and witnesses, follow the rules of the court—and yet an individual juror will sometimes observe or fixate on something so random, so unconnected to the case, that you would have to be Caesar’s Soothsayer to anticipate it. Existing outside a lawyer’s control, jurors can be a real source of anxiety—and yet, they are but one piece of the psychological morass inside a courtroom. It’s not just the jurors you have to think about, says psychologist Melissa M. Gomez. It’s also opposing counsel, the judge, and the witnesses, all bringing their own unique perspectives and life experiences with them and affecting the atmosphere of your trial. In her book, Jury Trials Outside In, Dr. Gomez posits these outside dimensions bear an often overlooked impact on how you communicate and behave in the courtroom—and teaches, from a psychological perspective, what you can do about it. Jury Trials Outside In doesn’t just ask fascinating questions. It answers them, too. 

 How did you first meet “Auntie NITA”?

I had written my book and was discussing finding a publisher with a client, who happened to be involved with NITA. He connected me to the NITA publishing department, and voilà!

This brings up an interesting point: despite your years of experience as a jury and trial consultant, you’re not actually a lawyer. How did you become interested in the law and make it the focus of your life’s work?

Alas, the law is not the focus on my life’s work. Psychology and what makes people learn, perceive, decide, and react in a particular way to a particular situation is my life’s work. The jury trial is a fascinating place where these elements of psychology apply across all the humans involved (the jurors, witnesses, lawyers, judge, public opinion, etc.).

Without giving away any identifiable details, what are some of the most interesting situations you’ve dealt with as a trial consultant?

I think what is most interesting about my job comes down to a simple concept: People are people. In my job as a jury expert, I have worked with lawyers, television stars, CEOs, billionaires, people in poverty, doctors, felons, nurses, politicians, engineers, truck drivers, scientists, . . . you name it.

Jury trials cause stress to everyone, whether they are the jurors, the lawyers, the witnesses, or the judge. The results of a jury trial often change lives. People react in different ways, but everyone feels it. We are all human beings. And I have liked just about every person I have met—regardless of who they are and what their job title is.

How did you come up with the idea to write your book, Jury Trials Outside In?

It started off as writing down my stories from the courtroom, and then, as the pile of my stories grew, I saw themes emerge that I wanted to connect to basic concepts of psychology, sociology, etc. It just flowed from there.

What is your writing process like?

Airplanes. I click away on airplanes. I usually just let words and ideas stream out onto the keyboard, and then I go back and read what I have written. I make the sentences tighter. I do some research on the idea that is developing and then add the results of that research into the text. Then I do it again on the next flight with the next set of ideas.

I then piece it all together like a puzzle and comb it through a few times. By the time anyone sees it, I have gone over it at least five or six times.

What is the most important personal attribute you bring to your work?

An ability to see outside of my own perspective, to find connections between concepts, and to narrow complex information into its basic elements.

What bores you?

Monotony.

If you could buy anything and price was no object, what would you buy?

A piece of art work by Picasso.

What is your favorite breakfast?

A banana with almond butter.

Besides your family, who in your life has known you the longest?

My graduate school advisor and professor from the University of Pennsylvania. She now does contract work for me when I conduct mock trials. I trust her completely.

What was your favorite book as a child?

Artie the Smartie. It was a story of a little fish that wanted to make a big splash.

If you came with a warning label, what would it say?

I found this question hilarious, so I put it out to friends and clients on my Facebook feed. Here are the responses.

 

My favorite is the one from Alan Feldman, a client of mine: “Warning: Disregard advice at you (or your client’s) own risk!”

Coffee or tea?

Iced coffee.

Cats or dogs?

Dogs with silly names. Mine is named Figaro so we can sing the song when we call him.

Classical or modern?

Classical.

iPhone or Android?

iPhone.

Sweet or salty?

Why choose? I like a combination of the two.

Spring ahead or fall back?

Neither. I am philosophically opposed to Daylight Savings Time.

And finally, what is your motto?

If it scares the crap out of you, it is probably worth doing.

 

 

Enjoy this interview? Find more of our Asked and Answered interviews with NITA personalities here on The Legal Advocate.

 

Asked and Answered—Aileen Tsao

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This quarter, we invited one of our scholarship winners to sit for a quick round of “Asked and Answered,” our blog interview series featuring NITA personalities. Aileen Tsao works for the King County Department of Public Defense and is currently assigned to represent individuals accused of misdemeanors in the Seattle Municipal Court—important public service work that made her eligible to apply for a scholarship administered by the NITA Foundation. Aileen was awarded a Craig Spangenberg/John Liber Scholarship, which was founded in 2014 by the International Society of Barristers (ISOB), with the goal of helping public service advocates obtain the “learning by doing” training that’s necessary to hone their trial skills. What this interview with Aileen reminds us is how much self-awareness NITA program attendees develop as a consequence of training—how much more intentional they can be in both thought and practice. It’s a game changer. We wish to thank our friends at ISOB for providing this invaluable experience to lawyers like Aileen, and to thank Aileen herself for choosing a career path that truly makes a difference.

What kind of cases do you typically handle for King County?
Currently, I am in Seattle Municipal Court—so, I defend people accused of misdemeanors that are prosecuted by the City of Seattle (i.e., anything that has a sentence of under one year).

What is the most challenging part about working in public defense?
The sheer amount of cases and clients. As misdemeanor attorneys, we are assigned approximately 400 cases each year. Although some clients will have multiple cases, the biggest challenge is navigating through so many cases and giving each person/case the attention they deserve. Although the cases are misdemeanors, they carry heavy consequences for each person. Loss of housing, inability to get a job, immigration consequences, fees . . . all of which can be significantly more complicated than the jail time itself.

What is the most important personal attribute you bring to your work?
A personal attribute that has certainly been “groomed” by my work is not caring if someone is going to say no, yet asking and asking anyway. Even if it seems you’re asking for the impossible—repeatedly—I’ve really embraced the concept that “the worst they can say is ‘no.’” Sometimes judges, prosecutors, and people in general surprise me. So, even if you’ve been told no numerous times, you just never know until you ask . . . .

It’s been nearly one year since you attended the Building Trial Skills program in Seattle. Looking back, how has it made an ongoing difference in your practice today? What do you do differently now that you didn’t do then?
NITA provided me with useful guidance on practical ways to be creative and engaging throughout my trial (and not in the “bring a PowerPoint” kind of way). For example, I was always aware of the importance of a theory/story/one-liner. In preparing for a trial, I would have a theory, but kind of skim over really hammering down a sentence, thinking, “I’ll get to that later” (i.e., never). Brainstorming requires you to shift out of “How do I make sure I hit every point on cross?” which is hard to find time to do.

Building Trial Skills talked about having a “bumper sticker” for your case. Hearing a group brainstorm different “catchy slogans”—and referring to them repeatedly throughout the case—really solidified in my mind its importance. For one thing, it’s “cleaner” than a theory and forces you to make your big point really concise into a way the jurors can understand. Similarly, the “What is your one-minute opening/closing?” is also a concept I hadn’t thought about. Now, I really prioritize the “one-minute” and the “bumper sticker.” I understand their importance both for forcing me to truly understand my case and in presenting them to the jurors in a way they can come to a not-guilty verdict. 

How did you first hear about NITA?
Judge Steve Rosen recommended it to me after he watched me fumble through admitting exhibits in my first solo trial. You can write the evidence rule down and think, “Yep!” But actually going through the process in the form of ask/answer with an adverse witness in a room full of people is completely different. The evidence drills at Building Trial Skills were invaluable.

What do you enjoy the most about working in the law?
I learn something new every day. There is always something worth working hard for. I’m never bored.

Your undergraduate degree is from the University of Toronto, where you double-majored in Anthropology and something called Peace & Conflict Studies. Sounds intriguing—not to mention necessary in this increasingly conflict-filled world of ours. What was that academic program like?
I loved both of those programs! Both of them shared understanding society and human behavior—why we do what we do. Peace & Conflict Studies was part of International Relations, so it was in a more global context of international conflicts. Anthropology was more in the realm of global development/globalization, but also understanding and respecting cultures on a more local scale. In anthropology, I took an interesting class on incarceration systems in the U.S. that still sits in the back of my mind.

What was the best vacation you’ve ever taken?
Travelling around Guatemala when my husband was working around Antigua for a few months. I learned about the local culture, we stayed in a beautiful treehouse (treehouse!), and my downtime was spent in a hammock eating fresh mangos and guacamole.

What do you collect?
Books. Even in our new paperless world, I still love reading paper. And the batteries don’t die.

What do you do when you can’t sleep?
Read a book, turn off my phone. 

What books are on your bedside table right now?
David Sedaris. Euphoria, by Lily King.

iPhone or Android?
iPhone.

Coffee or tea?
Coffee.

Rain or shine?
Shine!

Early bird or night owl?
Night owl.

Cats or dogs?
Cats.

And finally, what is your motto?
I don’t think I have one . . . ? Though I do tend to say, “There’s only one way to find out.”

The NITA Foundation awards a number of scholarships for our public trial and deposition programs to worthy applicants who have demonstrated a commitment to public service and/or financial need. Please support NITA’s mission to promote justice by training and mentoring lawyers to be effective advocates for their clients and donate now.

Enjoy this interview? Find more of our Asked and Answered interviews with NITA personalities here on The Legal Advocate.

Asked and Answered—Mike Dale

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It seems funny now to think of him this way, but once upon a time, Mike Dale was a NITA attendee. “My first encounter with NITA took place at Hofstra Law School, when, as a trial lawyer practicing in Phoenix, I traveled east and took NITA’s trial skills program on Long Island,” he says. “After becoming a law school professor and teaching trial advocacy, I took the NITA teacher training program.” The rest, as they say, is history—a history with NITA that includes directing the Florida Deposition program for over twenty-five years, helping develop the new NITA Experiential Skill-Based Course on interviewing and fact investigation techniques now being offered to law schools, filming a lecture series and a webcast on child advocacy, co-authoring a case file on juvenile delinquency, and contributing articles to this very blog. Small wonder, then, that he received the Robert Oliphant Service to NITA Award in 2009. “Mike is a true NITA ambassador,” says Wendy McCormack, AED of Operations. And to think, it all started because Mike enrolled in a trial skills program. Catch him this summer teaching at NITA family law programs at Hofstra and in Boulder.

Mike Dale at Charles University in Prague, with a Czech law student and his grandfather, both of whom attended Mike’s speech on the Hague Convention on Child Abduction.

What made you want to become a lawyer?
Before going to law school, I passed the tests and was accepted into the Foreign Service. President Nixon froze the waiting list. So I went to law school hoping I would eventually be able to work as a lawyer in the State Department.

When you set out as a young lawyer, did you envision yourself one day as a law professor? How did it happen?
It never occurred to me during law school or for fifteen years thereafter that I would ever teach law. However, while practicing in Phoenix, I taught trial advocacy as an adjunct at Arizona State University. That experience caused me to think about teaching law.

What is the most exciting or interesting thing happening at law schools in 2017?
Watching and reading about the Ninth Circuit oral argument on the Trump executive order case on immigration. When the attorney representing the government hesitated and, in answer to a question from the panel, said there was no review of the order, the significance of Marbury v. Madison, which is taught in every constitutional law class, came back into vivid focus

You’ve mentored a number of your students in writing substantive articles that have appeared here on our blog over the last few years. How did they come into this opportunity? How do you decide the topic for each post?
My research assistants and I have written ten substantive blog articles for the NITA Legal Advocate, and three more are in the pipeline. The topics come from experiences I have had during NITA training programs when litigation-related questions pop up and it is clear that the answer the question is unclear. I have taken these questions back to the law school and have assigned my research assistant to write approximately five-page articles answering these very pragmatic litigation- and trial-related questions.

Why do you teach?
When one has done as many uncontested divorces, landlord-tenant trials, name changes, juvenile delinquency loitering cases, and fender-benders as I have, one develops some knowledge of the basics of the practice of law that one wants to pass on. The best way to do that is to teach both doctrinal and skills law courses from a very pragmatic vantage point. Seeing the light go on in the eyes of the student is what I describe as psychic income

What three things are vital to your day?
First, checking in with my wife and two daughters, both of whom, for reasons that continue to escape me, became lawyers. Second, teaching and meeting with students. Third, checking English soccer scores

In what ways are you the same as your childhood self?
I wear white shirts and ties to work, including at NITA programs just as I did when I went to Easter dinner at my relatives’ in Brooklyn.

If nothing were holding you back, what would you like to be doing in ten years?
Watching English Premier League soccer games in person in places like Southampton, Sunderland, and Swansea.

What song makes you nostalgic?
Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and Edith Piaf’s “La Vie en Rose.”

What bores you?
Interrogatories, food programs on television, and faculty meetings.

What is your motto?
“Do what’s indicated”—my father’s way of saying do the right thing.

Coffee or tea?
Coffee early, tea late—but not chamomile.

Early bird or night owl?
Early bird.

Introvert or extrovert?
Extrovert.

City or country?
France.

Cats or dogs?
Neither.

Classic or modern?
Modern.

Popcorn or candy?
Candy: licorice.

Fiction or non-fiction?
Fiction—Colm Tóibín. Non-fiction—Robert Caro.

Enjoy this interview? Find more of our Asked and Answered interviews with NITA personalities here on The Legal Advocate.

Asked and Answered—Jason Young, NextGen Class of 2016

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James Thurber once observed, “The wit makes fun of other people; the satirist makes fun of the world; the humorist makes fun of himself.” In Jason Young, NITA has a humorist on its hands. Jason is also a member of NITA’s NextGen Class of 2016— and, as you’re about to discover, an advocate, colleague, teacher, and mentor of considerable humanity. Catch him at next month’s Rocky Mountain Trial Skills program, where he’ll joins other “Asked and Answered” interviewees Judge Bob McGahey and Judge Amy Hanley and many other top-notch faculty at our headquarters in Boulder. In the meantime, enjoy getting to know Jason in this week’s “Asked and Answered.” We certainly did.

How did you first meet “Auntie NITA”?
Former [Denver District Court] Judge Tina Habas (simply known at present as “The Habas”) and current [Colorado Eighteenth Judicial District Court] Judge Steve Collins had been encouraging me to get involved for a few years. I think they were both just secretly looking for a way to spend more time with me.

Where did your year of traveling and teaching for NITA take you?

I got to teach at programs in Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, Dallas, and of course Boulder (the mothership). I would have loved to teach at additional programs, but I could not get anyone to take me . . . which is a recurring theme in my life.

What was the most interesting thing you experienced in 2016 as a result of being NextGen faculty?

I have always, oddly, been obsessed with the JFK assassination—even as a kid. My parents gave me a set of the original newspapers from November 22, 1963; they are framed and hanging in my dining room. I even tracked down the exact same rifle Oswald used (6.5x52mm Carcano Model 91/38, built in 1940 at its factory in Terni, Italy) just to see if I could get three shots off in under nine seconds. So, when I was given the opportunity to teach at the LSCO [Legal Services Corporation] program at the UNT Dallas College of Law, I jumped at the opportunity. Much to my surprise, when I arrived I learned that the law school was moving into the old Dallas Municipal Building where Oswald was held after the assassination, all the iconic photos of him were taken, and where he was assassinated by Jack Ruby in the parking garage.

I learned that the cell Oswald was being held in would be moved down to the first floor and preserved, but I was dying to see it in its original state. I mercilessly begged our program director Professor Cheryl Wattley (and any staff member I could chase down . . . administrators, the poor guy emptying the trash, etc.) to get me into the building. I was informed that it was a construction area and I could not get in; I was told I would need a hard hat . . . I promptly offered to buy three. My begging was without any semblance of self-respect or dignity, but to no avail. However, I was assured by Professor Wattley that I would be invited back to see it once the move was complete. . . but based on my annoying and single-minded obsession, I can only assume that she deleted any record of me the instant I left Dallas.

What surprised you during this year of back-to-back teaching?
I had taught the Boulder trial skills program for several years prior to getting this opportunity, so I had a good grasp of how things were done. But, seeing how things were done differently (in varying degrees) at other programs was eye opening. When you teach that many programs that close together, you really get to see what concepts work well and what ones may be more challenging. For instance, I always thought using participants own phones to record their performances would be a simpler and easier way to go. However, when we did it at one of the programs it was surprisingly difficult. A lot of participants did not have enough memory on their phones, would borrow someone else’s phone, get to video review and realize they did not know the password, have to go back, etc. That is just one simple example of many. Seeing different approaches to the NITA programs was educational and worth its weight in gold.

What is one piece of advice you might offer to this year’s incoming NextGen class?
Take every opportunity you are given and go in with an open mind. Also, if you get to go to Dallas don’t pester Professor Wattley incessantly to see Oswald’s cell . . . she has enough to worry about.

You have an academic background in history and kinesiology, which rather begs the question: what career path might you have taken besides the law? And why did you end up choosing the law?
I always wanted to be a doctor. History has always fascinated me and I majored in the subject out of personal interest, but I was also pre-med. Once I realized all the pre-med requirements went toward a kinesiology degree, I said to myself, “Well, if I have to take all the classes anyway, I may as well have something to show for it.” I spent every break in college working in surgery at a hospital in Colorado Springs; I got to watch every surgery imaginable, carry severed limbs to the pathologist, etc. But, my grades were not good enough to get into medical school and I realized that I suck at science (small problem). I got into grad school for kinesiology with the intent of trying to get into medical school afterward.

It always fascinates me to talk to people who knew they wanted to be a lawyer, or even more specifically a judge, when they were small children. I was not that guy; I never even met a lawyer until college. I only became interested in law school during my junior year of college when one of the surgeons put me in touch with his daughter who was an investigator with the Public Defender’s Office . . . and I was hooked (by the career path, not by the surgeon’s daughter). A week after I got into the graduate program for kinesiology, I found out that I got into law school. I figured being done in three years, instead of getting a master’s degree and trying for med school in two, was a more sensible way to go. Based on my aptitude for science, it could not have worked out better. A lot more people are likely alive today because I chose to pursue law instead of medicine.

What are the first websites you look at in the morning?
Wall Street Journal and The Economist. Who am I kidding . . . I look at Yahoo. My wife reads The Economist. I prefer books with pictures where I don’t need to sound out the big words.

What book have you re-read the most in your life? Perhaps not necessarily a favorite book, but one that keeps drawing you back into it?
On The Road, by Jack Kerouac. It just speaks to me differently every time I pick it up. The “journey” of life certainly has a different meaning for me at forty than it did at twenty. Despite the fact that the words do not change, my interpretation of their meaning does and it always fascinates me how looking at the same thing through a different “lens” can greatly change one’s interpretation.

If you had to live somewhere else, where would it be, and why?
Borrowing from the theme above, I would live “on the road.” I try to take a solo cross-country motorcycle trip every summer to clear my head; last year I rode through sixteen states. Each time I go, the harder it is to come back. I always seek out offbeat things to amuse myself and detach from the practice of law for a week or two. In the last couple of years, I’ve gone to the alien museum in Roswell, New Mexico; ridden the Extraterrestrial Highway by Area 51 in Nevada; had lunch at the Little A’Le’Inn; stopped at a haunted Clown Motel in Tonopah, Nevada; had a snake bite me on the leg at a cemetery in Aurora, Texas when I was walking through looking for the headstone of an alien that was supposedly buried there in 1897 (there is an official State of Texas plaque at the site commemorating the event); participated in an all-night ghost hunt at the Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Louisville, Kentucky; ghost-hunted at the St. James Hotel in Cimarron, New Mexico; visited the “Mothman” in Point Pleasant, West Virginia; watched the movie Fargo on a pit stop in . . . Fargo, North Dakota; and many more as I zig zagged my way across the country. I am sure I would get tired of it at some point . . .or not . . . .

If you were on death row (because you didn’t hire a NITA trial lawyer, obviously), what would your final meal be?
Either a well-prepared filet mignon . . . or Chipotle. I’m a pretty simple guy, so I would probably land on Chipotle. In addition, I generally eat so much at Chipotle that I wish for death anyway . . . so it makes sense.

What terribly music do you sing along to in the car when no one else can hear you? (Ok, I’ll go first: Kelly Clarkson.) (I know.)
I like a wide range of music, with the exception of country music or jazz. I don’t get either one. I’ve been known to belt out “MMMBop,” by Hanson . . . that is one catchy tune. [Ed.: Brave admission, Jason.] But, my favorite all time band is Tool (or any other Maynard spinoff). I’ve got fourth row tickets to a show in April . . . I am beyond excited.

What is your motto?
I approach my job with humility and a sense of humor. I realize the law is something I do, but now who I “am.” My legal career has afforded me a lot of great opportunities, but I have also had to deal with a lot of serious cases. I tried my first murder case when I was twenty-seven and went on to try several other life sentence cases since that time. I once had to look a sixteen-year-old kid in the eye and tell him he was going to die in prison and there was absolutely nothing I could do to stop it. After eight years as a Public Defender, I transitioned into civil litigation where I have tried cases ranging from a few thousand dollars to seven figures. After dealing with all the stress and trauma involved with serious criminal cases, I found that civil lawyers tend to take themselves far too seriously. Overall, as a profession, I find we all tend to take ourselves far too seriously. We have important work to do, and it is important to respect the craft. But, I also bear in mind that fighting over money in a personal injury case is not the saving the world.

On a personal note, my wife was diagnosed with stage four lymphoma in January 2015. Months in the hospital, surgeries, chemo, baldness, etc. She was fortunate to make it through and is in remission . . . only to be diagnosed with leukemia a year later. The leukemia is also treatable, and we consider ourselves to be lucky. We all have to deal with tragedy and serious issues in our personal lives; we cannot forget how important life is outside of the law. Our lives changed drastically overnight, and that can happen to any of us at any time. As I held my wife’s hand while she vomited from the chemo at two in the morning, I certainly was not thinking, “I wish I spent more time at the office.”

So, here is my motto: “The law is important, but it is not everything. Don’t take yourself too seriously.”

Enjoy this interview? Find more of our Asked and Answered interviews with NITA personalities here on The Legal Advocate.

Asked and Answered—Judge Amy Hanley

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Between announcing the incoming Class of 2017 faculty and our interview with Jayme Cassidy, it would seem The Legal Advocate has NextGen on the brain lately. Because of its importance to NITA’s continuity and growth, today we’re talking with Amy Hanley, another standout “graduate” of the program. “Amy is one of my favorite new NITA stars,” says Mark Caldwell, Program Development and Resource Director at NITA. “She brings creativity, steadfast adherence to the NITA teaching format, high energy, and compassion to any classroom.” Amy brings a lot to NITA, and we’re fortunate to have her onboard as faculty. She’s a keeper.

How did you first meet “Auntie NITA”?
I was “discovered” in Hays, Kansas, by Mark Caldwell at the Kansas NITA Public Service Program. Judge Bill Ossmann had invited me to join him in Hays to teach prosecutors and public defenders. I had no idea what NITA was, but I prepared a presentation on closing argument and headed west. At that program, I met Mark and another NITA character by the name of Tom Swett. I followed their lead and must have done all right because I earned myself an invitation to teach in Colorado the next year. [Note: She’ll be back in Colorado next month to teach at the Rocky Mountain Trial Skills program.]

You were selected as a member of NITA’s NextGen Class of 2014. How did that year-long experience change your life?
The NextGen program added a missing layer of flavor to my professional life. My role as an advocate (I tried criminal cases in my former life) was much richer after flying all over the country to teach with lawyers/judges/professors from every area of the law. I learned much more than I taught. NextGen travel also introduced me to some of my now close personal friends.

You recently took the Seventh District bench in Lawrence, Kansas. What is the earliest recollection you have of realizing that being a member of the judiciary was something you’d be interested in and capable of?
About three weeks before I submitted my application—no joke. This stage in my career was completely unplanned. I was told that a judge in my district was about to retire. I had never considered it before, but the timing was right and I immediately knew I was ready to take that step.

Who has been your greatest mentor?
I would not have gone into trial work without the influence of my two mock trial team coaches at Drake Law School, Mark Godwin and Steve Foritano. Those guys are the real deal—über-talented trial dogs, but modest, with a sharp sense of humor.

Why do you teach?
For me, watching a student win a trial was more rewarding than winning one of my own.

What is the biggest risk you’ve taken that paid off?
I always say yes when I’m asked to do something I think I might not be able to do. Personal growth is the payoff.

If you hadn’t gone into the law, what career path do you think you might have taken instead?
When my sister and I were young, we’d play school. I was always the teacher, “Miss Suzy Sunshine.”

How do you unwind in your off-hours?
Always one of these three: cooking, traveling, or shopping. On Saturday morning, I’m usually in my kitchen making a big brunch; Saturday afternoon, I’m at Nordstrom. If we have more than three free days in a row, John and I are on a plane.

What has been the most memorable meal of your life?
NITA sent me to Tokyo to teach. My first night there I had eight courses of sushi and sake at a restaurant that was 147 years old. It was divine!

If you could witness any event in history, what would you choose, and why?
Jury deliberations during the OJ Simpson trial. I’m intrigued by the secrecy of what happens during all jury deliberations, but I would love to have seen the details of that verdict unfold.

Judge Amy, the time has come for you to lip-sync for your life. What song are you going to sing?
Lost in Emotion, by Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam while wearing tight-rolled jeans.

What is your motto?
You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.

Coffee or tea?
Strong coffee, please. I have Swedish roots.

iPhone or Android?
iPhone despite my husband’s attempts to make us an Android couple.

Cats or dogs?
Three crazy rescue cats live at the House of Hanley.

Popcorn or candy?
Popcorn. Salt is life!

Introvert or extrovert?
Nobody ever believes me when I say this, but I am so very introverted.

Sunrise or sunset?
The best stories from NITA City unfold after sunset.

Classical or jazz?
I’m not cool or pretentious enough to be a connoisseur of either.

Rain or shine?
I love the mystery and intrigue of the rain. I’d choose Seattle over Florida any day. [Note: Catch Amy at our Seattle Trial Skills program in July.]

Enjoy this interview? Find more of our Asked and Answered interviews with NITA personalities here on The Legal Advocate.

NITA’s team of practicing lawyers, professors and judges from around the nation dedicates its efforts to the training and development of skilled and ethical legal advocates to improve the adversarial justice system. NITA's Goals are to:
  • Promote justice through effective and ethical advocacy.
  • Train and mentor lawyers to be competent and ethical advocates in pursuit of justice.
  • Develop and teach trial advocacy skills to support and promote the effective and fair administration of justice.
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